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Full text of "Letters of William von Humboldt to a female friend. A complete ed."

LETTERS 

F [ 
WILLIAM VONIHUMBOLDT 



TO 

A FEMALE FRIEND. 

A COMPLETE EDITION, 
CransUtett from tije SeconU (German iSHitton, 

BY 

CATHARINE M. A. COUPER, 

AUTHOR OP " VISITS TO BEEOHWOOD FARM," " LUCY'S HALF-CROWN," Ac. 
WITH A BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE OF THE WRITER. 

IN TWO VOLUMES. 
VOL. II 



LONDON: 
JOHN CHAPMAN, 142 STRAND. 

MDCCCXLIX. 



ROBERT BARDIE AND CO. PRINTERS, EDINBURGH. 




1063108 



CONTENTS OF VOLUME SECOND. 



PREFACE, page v 

LETTER I. Berlin, 1829, 1 

Tone of depression. Approaching Death of Madame von Humboldt. 

LETTER II. Berlin, March 31, 1829, 3 

Madame von Humholdt's Death. Burial at Tegel. 

LETTER III. Berlin, May 18, 1829, . 5 

New loss from the Death of a Friend. 

LETTER IY. Tegel, June 12, 1829, 9 

Nature, Death, Misfortune, Wretchedness, Consolation. Life with a 
great Sorrow. Melancholy Contentment. Philosophical and religious 
impulse to new activity. Prospect of remarkable occurrences in 
Nature. 

LETTER V. Tegel, July 6, 1829, 14 

Illness and recovery of a Grandson. Reflections on the loss of Children. 
Death of Madame Therese Huber. 

LETTER VI . . .' . 17 

Estimate of Madame Huher. Forster and Huber. Power of the Human 
Mind. Approaching Journey to Gastein. 

LETTER VII. Baths of Gastein, August 26, 1829, ... 21 

From Gastein, full of high import. 

LETTER VIII. Eegensburg, September 10, 1829, ... 26 
Weakness of the Eyes. Resignation. 

LETTER IX. Tegel, Sept. 30, 1829, 30 

Calmness and Resignation. Melancholy reflections on Blindness. Alex- 
ander von Humboldt's " Genius of Rhodes." Changes of weather. 
Equanimity in illness. Madame von Humboldt's Grave. 

LETTER X. Tegel, Dec. 24, 1829, 36 

Contemplative repose. Sunset. Death. Future Life. Work as long as 
strength is given. Solitude. Study. Sympathy. The Seasons. 



IV CONTENTS. 

LETTER XI. Tegel, Jan. 26, 1830, .... page 40 

Transition from earthly sorrow to deep grief only ending with life. The 
duty of action in the greatest sorrow. This is the touchstone of our 
Emotions a,id of their genuineness. Sincerity of our feelings for the 
dead. The emotion of sorrow more noble when it lifts from Earth to 
Heaven, for it does not alienate from earth. 

LETTER XII. Tegel, March 5 and 17, 1830, .... 44 
Anxiety at'the delay of a Letter. Satisfaction at the receipt of it. Joy 
at the return of Cheerfulness. Request and exhortation to maintain 
it. Reflections upon the irreparable loss of one now glorified. Sor- 
row and Consolation in memory. 

LETTER XIII. Tegel, May 6-9, 1830, 48 

Darkness of Night. Transition to light and more exalted views. Affect- 
ing and delicate allusions to his great loss. Exhortation to the cul- 
tivation of Cheerfulness. 

LETTER XIV. Tegel, May 29, 1830, 51 

George Jacobi. Open Churches are consoling and elevating. Femow. 
Goethe's Letters on Italy. Journey to Silesia and Gastein. 

LETTER XV. Ottmachau, June 22, 1830, .... 54 

Vienna. Lintz. Thunderstorms. Death. 

LETTER XVI. Gastein, July 17, 1830, .... 58 

Health. Predilection for the name of Charlotte. Gastein. Earnest desire 
for Repose. Explanation of this, and gentle hints for outward as well 
as inward Happiness. 

LETTER XVII. Tegel, August 12, 1830, .... 62 
Return to Tegel, the beautiful, beloved abode which comprehends all that 
the heart can desire. Pleasure in study. 

LETTER XVIII. Tegel, Sept. 7, 1830, 66 

Disposition and wuy of life. The Firmament. An hypothesis of Kant at 
that time soothing and consoling. Anxiety. Political events of 1830. 

LETTER XIX. Tegel, October 6, 1830, 71 

Life a progress to a higher state. Frederick Leopold Stolberg's History 
of the Christian Religion. 

LETTER XX. Tegel, Nov. 6, 1830, 75 

Ways and means of undertaking a scientific occupation with earnestness 
and pleasure. 

LETTER XXI. Tegel, Dec. 4, 1830, 79 

Stolberg's conversion to Catholicism. A book as a Souvenir. Palestine. 
Carl Ritter : praise of him. 

LETTER XXII. Tegel, Jan. 4, 1831, . . . . . 83 
The manner of commencing a New Year. Ideas. Youth and old age : a 



CONTENTS. V 

bright side to both. Palestine and the ages of Antiquity. The same 
spirit, the same desire, to lift up the depressed and to strengthen the 
feeble. Kind wishes, gentle blame, and admonition. Prospect of 
public affairs in general, and particularly those of 1831. 

LETTER XXIII. Tegel, Feb. 5 and 8, 1831, . . . page 87 
Report of Health. Increasing difficulty in writing. Gellert Favourable 
recollections of the kind, pious man " without any poetry." Gellert's 
ideas of sanctifying influences interesting. 

LETTER XXIV. Tegel, April 6, 1831, . . ..'... . 94 
Silence. Conjectures. Sunset. Images of Fancy. 

LETTER XXV. Tegel, May 6, 1831, 98 

Circumstances of the times. "War : Poland. Schiller's Life of Madame 
Wolzogen. What is Poetry ? Klopstock. Gellert 

LETTER XXVI. Tegel, June 3, 1831, . . . . . 101 
Condolence and Consolation upon a loss. Melancholy reflections on a 
personal loss at Rome. 

LETTER XXVII. Aschersleben, July 2, 1831, . . .105 
Recollections of the past. Slight value of life. Deprivations and advan- 
tages of old age. Campe. Different spheres of men. An earthly and 
a heavenly course: the last the characteristic of old age. Explana- 
tion. 

LETTER XXVIII. Nordernei, July 26, 1831, . . .109 

Sea-bathing and Nordernei. The Sea. Grandeur of the object. Lively 
description of the place. Report of health. 

LETTER XXIX. Tegel, Jan. 1, 1832, . . . . .112 
Views of life at different times and in various situations. Connection 
between temporal and eternal existence. Sympathy with a new loss. 

LETTER XXX. Tegel, Feb. 2, 1832, 115 

Favourable influence of the consolation of those we love. The cause of 
this. Noble and elevating expressions on this subject. Liberal esti- 
mation of men. Advantage of this correct power of judgment in every 
relation of life, especially the most intimate. Grief. Disapprobation 
of cold hypocritical resignation. 

LETTER XXXI. Tegel, March 7, 1832, 119 

Duelling. Astronomy. Self-knowledge. Elevation of our sentiments. 
The extent of inward struggle is the problem that man has to solve, 
as well as the purity of his actions. Moral beauty shows that an image 
of external greatness, goodness, and beauty, hovers before the soul, 
which is certainly unattainable, but which inspires the mind with 
emulation. In the circle of ideas which one possesses, book-learning 
is not required, but clearness and distinctness are indispensable. Dis- 
proportion of reflection to knowledge. In men it is less striking; in 
women very unpleasing. 



yi CONTENTS. 

LETTER XXXII. Tegel, May 5, 1832, .... page 123 
Consoling and elevating ideas connected with the death of a Child. 
Astronomy. Correspondence with Schiller. 

LETTER XXXIII. Tegel, June 4, 1832, 128 

Second journey to Nordernei from increasing weakness. Quiet endu- 
rance of it Transition to earnest reflections upon Life and Death, 
and preparation for death: these man cannot understand and cannot 
calculate upon. 

LETTER XXXI Y. Tegel, June 26, 1832, . . . .132 
The most important object in life. Information respecting health in- 
tended to deceive which did not deceive. 

LETTER XXXV. Nordernei, August 2, 1832, . . .134 
Arrival at Nordernei. Influence of bathing, and improvements there. 
Preparation for the dreaded future. Correspondence with Schiller. 
Great modesty : subordination to Schiller. Madame de Stael and one 
of her paradoxes. Praise of De Stael. Bliss of a young, happy, wedded 
pair. Transition to old age: not poor in joy to him, but he avoids 
passing judgment upon others. 

LETTER XXXVI. Tegel, Sept. 3, 1832, ..... 138 
Return to Tegel. Resumption of studies. Tranquillity and patience no 
merit. Nothing of moment to one richly endowed with self-control. 
Two-fold state of old age: amiable cheerfulness and sociability, or 
greater earnestness, tranquillity, and d.pth. 

LETTER XXXVII. Tegel, Oct. 1832, 142 

Cholera: anxiety respecting its appearance in K. Reflections. Favourite 
ideas. Sunset. 

LETTER XXXVIII. Tegel, Dec. 1832, 145 

Pleasure in confidential communications. Thoughts. To set one's house 
in order, within and without. Recovery of patience. Still no merit ! 
Campe. Repeated wishes at the close of the year. 

LETTER XXXIX. Tegel, Jan. 7, 1833, 148 

Commencement of the year: glorious starry nights. Greater beauty of 
the nights in Italy. 

LETTER XL. Tegel, Feb. 9, 1833, 151 

Value of a correspondence referring little to the external life. Pleasure 
n intimate communion. Setting one's house in order in both senses, 
externally and internally. Explanation. The inward and spiritual 
sense much the nobler and more exalted. 

LETTER XLI. Tegel, March 8, 1833, 155 

Ideas: the highest. Explanation. 
LETTER XLII. Tegel, April 7, 1833, 159 

Journals destroyed! Memory. Recitation : what is necessary to it. Sa- 
tisfaction at the tone of resignation. Friendly exhortation to a still 
higher resignation. 



CONTENTS. Vll 

LETTER XLIII. Tegel, April 28, 1833, .... page 163 
Prince Radziwill and his family. Gall and Lavater. 

LETTER XLIV. Tegel, June 14, 1833, 166 

Repeated expressions of sympathy. Feminine occupations: affecting 
praise of them. Influence of employment upon the minds and hearts 
of Women. 

LETTER XL V. Berlin, July 1, 1833, 169 

Homoeopathy. 

LETTER XLVI. Nordernei, July 13, 1833, .... 171 
Hamburgh and its great prosperity. Klopstock: his grave: his second 
marriage. Dislike of second marriages. Life at Nordernei. Recollec- 
tions. Ideas and Knowledge. Goethe's Posthumous Works. 

LETTER XLVII. Nordernei, August 2, 1833, . . .174 
Beneficial effect of Sea-bathing. Power of the Soul over bodily weak- 
ness. Madame de Stael. Madame de Laroche. Great praise of the 
former. Judgment of the latter. 

LETTER XLYIII. Tegel, October 6, 1833, .... 178 
Goethe and Herder. Critique upon Herder. Estimate of his writings. 
The way to study books. Mild rebuke of a wrong aim in reading. 

LETTER XLIX. Tegel, Nov. 4 to 8, 1833, . . . .182 
Two-fold sphere in our souls. Hermits of Montserrat. 

LETTER L. Tegel, Nov. 16 to Dec. 7, 1833, . . . .185 
More comments on the manner of reading books. Bunsen. Paul Gerhard. 
What a Hymn ought to be. His careful selection and arrangement 
Preference for the old over the new ones. A deep religious feeling 
more prevalent now than formerly. Events in the world. Severe 
but not unqualified judgment. In former times greater Frivolity, 
which undermines all Morality. Influence of the weather upon some : 
ludicrous example. 

LETTER LI. Tegel, Dec. 20, 1833, to Jan. 7, 1834, . . 191 
Italy: journey and residence there a high enjoyment. Guide-books: 
Stolberg's in particular; also Frederica Bran's. Answer to the ex- 
pressions of resignation at the greater interval between letters, owing 
to the great effort of writing, which it was painful to perceive. The 
commencement of the year. Encouragement 

LETTER LIT. Tegel, Jan 12, 1834, 196 

Paul Gerhard's Hymns. The Bible. Herder, Reading much or little. 
Origin of the love of reading. What is Happiness? Women find calm 
happiness sooner than men. Continuance of the correspondence not 
unconditional, alas ! 

LETTER LIII. Tegel, February 1834, 200 

February. The Comet of 1834. Anticipation of an approaching event 



Vlll CONTENTS. 

that will perhaps give an explanation of everything. This anticipa- 
tion pervades every thought, and gives a tone of sadness and yet of 
elevation. More recollections of Goethe. Schleiermacher : his death 
and great loss. 

LETTER LIV. Tegel, March 14 to April 4, 1834, . . page 203 
Stolberg. His Journey into Italy, and his conversion to Catholicism. 
Beauty and pomp of the Church in Italy. Churches open the whole 
day : influence of this upon the mind. A favourable opinion of Paul 
Gerhard's Songs. Wherein consists the value of a Preacher. 

LETTER LV. Tegel, April 15 to May 8, 1834, . . .206 
Handwriting entirely changed. Serious considerations on the influence 
of old age upon the Mind and Character. Favourite ideas. 

LETTER LVI. Tegel, May 16 and July 18-28, 1834, . . 209 
Pleasure ha Nature, even now. Prospect of a future world suggested by 
Paul. The many and great infirmities of old age are only to be borne 
in patience, and the cheerful view not overlooked. 

LETTER LVII. Tegel, Aug. and Sept. 1834, . . . .213 

Self-knowledge. 
LETTER LVIII. Tegel, Sept. and Oct. 1834, . . . .215 

Expression of pleasure at cheerful intelligence. 
LETTER LIX. Tegel, Nov. to Dec. 3, 1834, .... 217 

Praise of Cheerfulness. Goethe's Posthumous Works. Madame von 
Varnhagen.* 

LETTER LX. Tegel, Dec. 1834 to Jan. 2, 1835, . . .220 
An exhortation. Refusal of a request. Madame von Varnhagen. Self- 
knowledge and self-deception. 

LETTER LXI. Tegel, February 1835,; 226 

Conception and nature of Cheerfulness. 
LETTER LXII. Tegel, March 1835, 228 

Goethe's Posthumous Works. Goethe's Correspondence with a Child. 
LAST LINES on the 28th of March. .... 230 

REMARKS and ADDITIONS, chiefly on Letters in Vol. I. 231 



* This name has been by mistake printed JSamhagen in the text 



PREFACE TO VOLUME SECOND. 



THE Letters of William von Humboldt to a female 
friend may be divided into two parts. The second 
part embraces the last years of his life the old age of 
the writer. These were all written between the years 
1829 and 1835, and even the last, shortly before his 
death, was written with his own hand. 

After Madame von Humboldt's death, the mind of 
her already-spiritualized husband assumed a completely 
different tone. It is true, his life and actions remained 
equally beneficent ; his sympathy with all who were 
near him and deserving of it, consolatory and full of 
goodness and love : but the spirit of joy was fled, the 
aspect of the world was changed. He asked no more 
from life; it could bestow nothing of value to him 
but quiet and solitude, that he might live undisturbed 
in his study, upon the remembrance of the past, in 
sorrowful recollections and lofty contemplations. Never 
was a wife more deeply, fondly, and tenderly lamented, 
and never perhaps was there one more worthy of such 

VOL. II. B 



2 PREFACE TO VOLUME SECOND. 

enlightened sorrow. There is evidence of this in all 
the sonnets and letters written about this time. The 
reader in whose memory the author lives, will follow 
him with reverence in his suffering but honourable old 
age, as he has followed him with admiration in the 
years of his manly and energetic action. 

Except this short preface, the Editress has little to 
add to this second part. With much difficulty she 
came to the determination of leaving these letters for 
publication after her death, and with still more reluc- 
tance she consented to their appearance during her life. 
But as the resolution has been taken, she cherishes 
the joyful hope that the book will find many friends. 

Go forth, then, from thy long sacred concealment, 
thou dear consoling companion of gloomy hours, and 
bear thou to many the joy, the elevation, the comfort 
that thou hast borne to me ! 

The Editress asks from all who welcome her work, 
forbearance for the egotism which must necessarily 
appear, and good wishes for the short remainder of 
her life.* 

* This excellent lady died after a short illness. 



LETTERS OF W. VON HUMBOLDT. 



LETTER I. 

BERLIN, 1829. 

Your letter reached me at a time that I may consider 
the saddest in my life. My wife, whose very weak and 
painful state you know and have sympathized in, suffers 
rather less; but day after day gives me less encouragement 
to look for her ultimate recovery. At the same time a 
sudden and dangerous attack of nervous fever has pro- 
strated the Privy-Councillor Rust, the proprietor of the 
house we occupy, our physician, and above all, a man with 
whom we have been for years on terms of the closest 
friendship. To-day, for the first time, a faint glimmering 
of hope of his recovery has cheered us. He would be a 
loss to hundreds, for he is not only one of the most active 
and fully occupied physicians here, but he has also been 
of the greatest service in the regulation of the hospitals 
and other medical institutions; and at the time he was 
taken ill, he was occupied with some important plans. 

****** 
In such moments, which are the most serious in our 
lives, it becomes a duty to examine ourselves and to seek 
support and reconciliation with our lot from the source of 
all strength. 



W. VON HUMBOLDT S LETTERS. 



LETTER II. 

BERLIN, March 31, 1829. 

I can write only a few lines to-day, my dear Charlotte. 
I have experienced the bitter grief which, when I wrote 
last, I saw before me. My wife died early on the 26th, 
and was interred yesterday at Tegel. She had been for 
four months on a sick-bed, and had suffered much, al- 
though she was spared very violent pain. Her pure tran- 
quil spirit, reconciled to live or to die, remained unruffled ; 
her last hours were peaceful, calm, and quite free from 
pain. She retained her consciousness to her last breath, 
and spoke a few moments before her departure with a clear, 
firm voice, to her two elder daughters and to myself. Her 
words were simple, as the tone in which she spoke was 
tranquil. The nearer the moment of death approached, the 
more peaceful and composed were her features; not the 
slightest convulsion distorted her countenance. Her death 
was a gradual sinking into a deep sleep. 

[WRITTEN AFTER AN INTERVAL.] 

I have suffered a new, unexpected, and very bitter loss. 
A very intimate friend of ours, who for years has been ac- 
customed to spend some hours with us every evening when 
we were in town, and to visit us frequently in the country, 
has just died after a very short illness. He stood with me 
at the grave of my wife, and yesterday I was at his funeral. 
His loss grieves me much, and I shall sadly miss his com- 
panionship. 



LETTER III. 



LETTER III. 

BERLIN, May 18, 1829. 

Our letters, dear Charlotte, have crossed. Mine will 
have shown you that I anticipated your wish to receive 
tidings of me, and as you desire it, I tell you first that 
my health is very good. At such an advanced age as mine, 
one has always now and then a slight indisposition, and 
after a long winter a little rheumatism. From such weak- 
ness I naturally suffer sometimes j hut I pass over this. 
Unless my letters speak of illness you may be assured I am 
well. It is always irksome to me to speak of my circum- 
stances, and especially of myself. A tender sympathy like 
yours, dear Charlotte, delights me when I am convinced 
that it springs from an upright and feeling heart j but it 
would be painful to me if I were compelled to believe that 
it was bestowed on me alone. It is a greater enjoyment to 
me to think that your sympathy is especially mine, from 
the sentiments which you have so long and truly enter- 
tained towards me, on the stability of which I can confi- 
dently reckon. I wrote to you lately of the death of a 
valued friend in whom I have suffered a great loss: now 
spring flowers are blooming over his grave and over that of 
my wife. So Nature goes on in her eternal course, and 
regards not the mortality of man. The most painful and 
distressing events may happen, either in the direct course 
of her accustomed revolutions, or by some apparent devia- 
tion, but she still pursues her way with stern indifference 
and insensibility. 

Whether we suffer from a present sorrow, or from the 
fear of one impending, this thought has something in it 
that makes us pause and shudder as it increases the bitter- 

B 2 



6 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

ness of our inward grief. But as we gaze further as the 
soul loses itself in universal contemplation as man returns 
to the reflection and devotion which are truly worthy of 
him, then this eternal, unchangeable course of nature has 
a peaceful and consoling influence. It becomes to us a 
resting-place, " a stationary pole-star amidst the flight of 
meteors," as was beautifully said in a song of Schiller's. 
Man belongs to a great order of things not easily disturbed 
or thrown into confusion, and as this leads to something 
higher, and at length to a point in which all doubts shall 
be resolved, all difficulties smoothed, and all the jarring 
tones of contradiction and dissension joined in one mighty 
harmony, he must also in this order attain to this point. 
The character which nature bears is one so tender as not to 
wound the finest sensibility; the serenity, joy, and bright- 
ness which she displays the glory and splendour in which 
she clothes herself have nothing arrogant or repulsive. 
Who is there sunk so deep in sorrow or gloom as not to 
resign himself to the feelings which are awakened by the 
many-tinted blossoms of the budding spring, the joyful 
songs of the birds, and the glorious splendour of all these 
objects in the full rays of the summer sun? Sorrow takes 
the tinge of melancholy, with which a certain sweetness and 
serenity are not incompatible. At length we see that Na- 
ture is not all not the whole of this world of spirit and of 
sense, but only as it were furnishing the Creator with 
materials and with power; and man belongs not to her, 
save in the dust of his earthly tabernacle. He himself 
his peculiar and exalted being steps beyond her limits, 
and is associated with a higher order of things. You see 
from this how the long-delayed yet beautiful spring affects 
me, how I enjoy it, how it blends with my inmost feelings. 
It may also give you an image of myself. I can no longer 
experience any really joyful impression, I can only feel sad 
and melancholy at this moment; |and when I say at this 
moment, it is because I am always unwilling to speak of 



LETTER III. 7 

the future, because I am free from all affectation ; and if a 
truly joyous mood were to return to me, I should give 
myself up to it without reflection and without concealment. 
But I really believe that my present disposition will remain 
with me. 

I have never been quite able to understand how time 
should lessen the weight of a sorrow or a loss. The de- 
privation remains for ever the same, and the alleviation can 
only arise either from the remembrance of the loss being 
weaker, or by the feeling of being drawn closer to another 
who is left, which will I trust be far from me as from every 
noble soul. I feel it right that it should be thus with me. 
I have never sought for happiness in joyful emotions, or for 
unhappiness in painful ones. That which men commonly 
call happiness and unhappiness have never been so important 
to me as that I should complain if instead of the enjoyment 
of the former I was surprised by the latter. I have been 
happy for long years by the side of my wife, in great 
measure through her means, at least the thought of her 
has mingled with every real enjoyment. This happiness the 
course of nature and the ordinance of Providence have 
taken from me, and without the possibility of a return. 
But the remembrance of the dead, and of the life we have 
spent together, can never be torn from me. There is 
happily something that man can retain when he will, and 
over which fate has no power. In retirement and solitude 
I can live over again in this remembrance, and shall never 
complain of unhappiness. For we may have a severe sorrow 
and not feel unhappy, if this sorrow be so deeply entwined 
with our inmost being that it cannot be separated from it, 
and gradually it is cherished there until it has fulfilled its 
purpose. The memory of the past has an endless power, 
and if painful longings arise to give ourselves up to it, it 
has yet an inexpressible charm. We can shut ourselves up 
in thought with those we have loved and lost we can turn 
away in peace and freedom from all that is external ; and 



8 

though still active and benevolent, for ourselves we ask 
nothing, for all that the heart has power to enjoy is within. 
If we lose that which has been the noblest and most intel- 
lectual part of ourselves, a new epoch of our life is opened. 
That which we have lived till now is closed ; we can look at 
it as a whole, retain and live over again its feelings in our 
memory; but we have no more wishes for the future, and 
as through this remembrance we enjoy to a certain extent 
a constant spiritual communion, and feel ourselves elevated 
by its strengthening influence, life, which is the medium 
of all these feelings, retains its charm. No attraction of 
nature is less pleasing to me ; but I avoid mankind because 
solitude is become necessary to me. H. 



LETTER IV. 



LETTER IV. 

TEGEI, June 12, 1829. 

I thank you very much, my dear friend, for your last 
letter, which I read with my usual pleasure. I thank you 
especially for what you say in reference to my feelings. I 
know that my sorrow is yours, and also that you fear to 
awaken it. This tender fear has something holy in it, and 
is a characteristic of all deeply-feeling hearts. 

You see from my letters that I am tranquil and com- 
posed. I live (and the feeling will gain strength from year 
to year) in the remembrance of the past, with an enjoyment 
that the present can no longer give. In this remembrance 
I am rich, and in so far happy, as I feel that this enjoyment 
is of the nature suited to my advanced age. Beyond this 
remembrance I seek nothing. I do not in this life expect 
consolation, satisfaction, and compensation. I ask and re- 
quire nothing on this side the grave. Towards my children 
I am the same : my feelings with respect to them have not 
changed, as my sympathy is awakened by their grief for our 
common loss. I cannot be more watchful over them, or be 
bound more closely to them, than I have ever been. In re- 
lation to all else, I remain the same. I am certainly not less 
sympathizing, benevolent, and ready with advice and as- 
sistance, than formerly. So, dear Charlotte, you must put 
yourself in my* place, and you will see that you have no 
reason to be anxious about me. Those who travel together 
on the path of life must separate at some point; happy 
if the separation occur at a time when the survivor must 
soon follow. But the loss even for years is short when com- 
pared with eternity. 

I can perceive that my mind is gradually and almost 
unconsciously becoming more reconciled to the event in life 



10 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

or in fate, as you would call it which has unfortunately 
occurred earlier than the usual course of circumstances 
would have led me to expect. Such a feeling of recon- 
ciliation should in my opinion be acquired by every man, 
and the effort for its attainment must be entirely his own. 
There is no rule of wisdom no work done by others, that 
can save him the earnest struggle. This frame of mind is 
frequently attained only after much suffering, both physical 
and moral; but in this consists that true resignation to the 
appointments of Providence which I consider the first and 
highest duty of man. Dwelling upon the present period of 
my life, there is no longer any clinging to individuals or to 
the world; but a kindly forgetfulness of self, a disposition 
to sympathize and to give pleasure in every possible way, 
are more predominant feelings, inasmuch as there is less 
inclination to receive pleasure, at least that is not the 
great object. 

My residence here suits me particularly well, now even 
more than formerly. Yet I have been almost every week 
for two days in the town, the last place where I can enjoy 
perfect freedom and solitude. It is singular that even at 
this time I have been engaged in business without the pos- 
sibility of refusing. It is fortunately of no great importance; 
but it will take some time, and obliges me to be away from 
this place, and brings me more into collision with the world 
than I like. A new museum has been built at Berlin, in 
which are to be collected all the works of art in the pos- 
session of the king. There is a committee of artists ap- 
pointed for the purpose, and the superintendence has been 
entrusted to me. The work itself is light and interesting, 
and the men with whom I shall come most in contact 
are in the circle of my acquaintance. On this account, this 
new situation disturbs me less than it might have done 
under other circumstances. 

You mention in your letter the inundation and the un- 
fortunate sufferers in consequence of it. The assistance 



LETTER IV. 11 

which has been afforded to them has been very important, 
and the Government has also done much. The present 
distress is easily relieved, and then what always happens in 
such cases takes place. A number remain who, neither 
poor before nor impoverished now, can hardly be considered 
proper objects of relief, and are yet thrown back in their 
business, and suffer considerable loss. These are almost the 
most deserving of compassion, yet nothing can be done: 
such mental and bodily distress may be alleviated, but can 
never be quite removed. Even these must afford assistance 
to the completely destitute, and this necessity is the hardest 
upon those who would have given help willingly had it been 
in their power. 

In inundations and earthquakes, such as now occur in 
the southern provinces of Spain, it is a strange consideration 
that certain appointed districts and men seem unalterably 
ordained for the return of the calamity, the occurrence of 
which drives every one from the locality. We are apt to 
blame the settling again on these spots as thoughtless and 
imprudent; but this is certainly unjust. There is on one 
side the feeling that in every spot of earth we are equally 
in the hands of a higher Power; and perfect security we 
can have in no place. Experience also confirms the feeling. 
In those parts of Spain which have lately suffered so fear- 
fully, there have been till now, as far as we can ascertain, 
no earthquakes, and no traces have been found in the for- 
mation of the mountains or the state of the soil which 
could lead to the expectation of such a catastrophe. We 
must live nowhere if we wish to avoid all danger. Events 
of this sort are signs from Heaven that man should not 
cling too closely to earth. They are only in another form 
the repetition of the admonition of Paul, which you quote so 
justly and beautifully in your letter " If in this life only 
we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." 
Again : This return to the districts desolated by floods 
and earthquakes this recolonizing the spots that have been 



12 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

the graves of men and of the labours of men, arises from 
a praiseworthy and pious trust in the goodness of Provi- 
dence that he will control the wrath of the elements, and 
will not suffer the safety and repose of men to be continu- 
ally threatened and overthrown. We may certainly remark 
that the changes in the surface of the earth are less frequent 
than formerly that nature wears a more kindly aspect to 
man, and does not appear in all the terrors of her wild 
uncontrolled power. Even experience, history, tradition, 
and the interpretations of the traces of past events and re- 
volutions in inanimate nature, as signs of what has occurred, 
sanction and confirm this confidence. If all means are 
adopted by which man can protect himself against the 
powers of nature, then this settling again in a dangerous 
district is justified from all objection. 

I am very glad that you continue to find pleasure in the 
study of the stars. The heavens and the impression their 
contemplation makes upon the mind are so different from 
the feelings and ideas of earth, that he who finds pleasure 
only in the displays of Nature on the surface of the globe, 
loses half, and that the most important half, of her mani- 
festations. I say not that the power, wisdom, and goodness 
of the Creator are displayed more wonderfully in the firma- 
ment than on the surface of the earth; they shine equally 
in the most diminutive and the most magnificent creations. 
But the heavens awaken in the mind purer, more exalted, 
deeper, more disinterested, and less sensual feelings. I 
myself can contemplate the heavenly bodies but little, as 
my sight is too weak in these bright summer-nights to 
recognise any but the largest stars.* 

* The natural occurrences which gave rise to these remarks being 
long past, and having been succeeded by others of more importance, 
may have little interest now. But the observations are character- 
istic of a great and noble mind, and display with so much simplicity 
the gentleness and benevolence of his spiritual nature, that all who 
know him will recognise them as emanating from him. 



LETTER IV. 13 

As you wish me to appoint a day, I ask you to send me 
your next letter on the 23d of this month. Farewell. I 
remain, with unalterable sympathy and friendship, yours, 

H. 



VOL. II. 



14 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER V. 

TEGEL, June 6, 1829. 

Since I wrote last to you, dear Charlotte, my life has 
not been without anxiety. My little grandson, the child 
of my eldest son, who has been here with his mother for 
some months, was so dangerously ill for many days that we 
despaired of his recovery. He is six years of age a fair 
lively boy, who for this very reason for according to the 
opinion of enlightened physicians there is peculiar danger 
in fair children and probably also from a remarkable con- 
formation of head, has unfortunately a tendency to inflam- 
mation of the brain, or at least there is danger that it may 
result in this. Till now this weakness has fortunately re- 
mained undeveloped, but this time it was exhibited in its 
most alarming form. The means applied have, thank God ! 
warded off the danger and brought a speedy and complete 
recovery j but for three or four days we were all very 
anxious. The loss of this child would have been very sad. 
I do not say this only because he has no brothers or sisters, 
being my son's only child, but more from the peculiarly 
amiable disposition and intelligent spirit of the boy. I 
know from sad experience that the loss of a child, even 
when others remain, is a grievous trial; the lost one 
always appears to have been the only one. But perhaps 
the kind, if not the degree of sorrow, may be modified in 
some natures. 

I have experienced a trial of a different kind in the loss 
of the late Madame Huber. You have perhaps seen the 
notice of her death in the papers, and I feel sure of your 
sympathy, as you have frequently alluded to her with 
interest in your letters. It is certainly mentioned in the 



LETTER V. 15 

general papers, but I did not know whether the intelligence, 
not being of universal interest, was noticed in the local 
papers. I have known her, with the difference of a few 
weeks, as long as I have known you. Keturning from 
Gottingen, I twice saw her and Forster (who was then her 
husband) at Mayence, and stayed at their house. We were 
constant in the interchange of letters, sometimes but sel- 
dom, at other times more frequently; for two years our 
correspondence was never interrupted. After nearly forty 
years I met her, when I went for the first time with my 
lamented wife to Gastein in Bayreuth, where a daughter of 
hers was married. She was the same as in former days, 
with the exception of the inevitable alterations of time. 
She wrote me a touching letter after the death of my wife : 
I little thought it was the last I should receive from her. 
Hers was a peaceful death. She loved life ; and though at 
some periods of it she had struggled courageously with 
much misery and real want, she had upon the whole en- 
joyed it at least she never complained. But she also 
evinced a joyful resignation when death became inevitable, 
as is proved by the account which her son-in-law sent me 
of her last moments. She was ill only a few days, from a 
cold, against the effects of which, although she was older 
than I am, she took few precautions. About twenty-four 
hours before her death, feeling that her end was approach- 
ing, which was evident also to the physicians, she spoke 
with perfect serenity and composure, and with the clearness 
of spirit for which she was remarkable, to those around her, 
respecting her own future, and theirs upon earth, till gra- 
dually her strength failed, and she sank away in a gentle 
slumber. For strength of mind she was certainly one of 
the most remarkable women of her time. Her knowledge 
was extensive ; she had read much in almost all the modern 
languages, and had attained a high degree of intellectual 
cultivation. But all this was surpassed, regulated, and made 
available by an innate strength of mind that no education 



16 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

or cultivation can give, and by the fulness of a rich creative 
fancy. In her home, with her children when they were 
little, she had the most exquisite womanly simplicity, and, 
without appearing to consider it any merit, a remarkable 
purity of sentiment. Till her death she laboured with great 
activity and ceaseless energy, for she supported herself by 
her own efforts. H. 



LETTER VI. 17 



LETTER VI. 

I was very glad to find that you had heard by indirect 
means of the Huber family, and were so much interested in 
them. I do not remember that the late Madame Huber 

mentioned the family of St to me, or the name would 

have occurred in her letters. But it was not her way to 
relate much in her letters, or to give an exact account of 
her life and actions. I am glad, however, that you are 
so much interested in her without having known her, as it 
is a proof that she was appreciated and loved by the St 

s. And this was not easy : she had such peculiarities, 

that it was difficult to understand her. There are extra- 
ordinary spirits that cannot be measured by everyday rules. 
I should be tedious if I were to enter into particulars. The 
grave now covers all; and what relates to the departed 
one is better in one's own breast. I am very glad that one 

of the Miss St (and particularly the one of whom you 

have told me so much that is amiable and pleasing, and 
who adds so much to your happiness) should have been on 
such terms of intimacy as to be addressed by her under 
her Christian name of Theresa; and also that both her 
parents were well acquainted with the Huber family when 
they lived in Stuttgard. I knew both Forster and Huber. 
For all practical affairs I should have preferred Huber. 
Each was inferior to his wife in depth and compass of 
mind and elevation of character. But Forster was more 
amiable ; he had more imagination and warmth of feeling, 
and a greater brilliancy of expression in speaking and wri- 
ting. At the time I knew him when I was very young, I 
had a very high opinion of him, and I afterwards found 
that as a scholar and an author he enjoyed a good reputa- 

C 2 



18 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

tion, fully justified by his genius and acquirements. But 
he dwelt too much upon himself to be susceptible of deep 
emotions, and this self-contemplation gave a colouring to all 
else. But this was no hindrance to his being capable of 
great and noble sacrifices. He gratified his own self-esteem 
in the sacrifice, and looked for applause from those in whom 
gratitude would forbid any other opinion; and thus, ac- 
cording to the Scripture expression, " He had his reward." 
He died at Paris, not later, I think, than 1795; for I was 
in Paris in 1797, and he had then been dead two years. 
It was a happy thing for him that he did not live longer : 
his would have been an unhappy lot. His amiable disposi- 
tion was of the nature that can be indulged in youth only, 
and is checked by the advance of old age. It was to be 
regretted that he married too early, or even that he mar- 
ried at all. The obligation of supporting a family involved 
him in the painful necessity of writing too much for profit, 
by which his private studies, and finally his health, suifered. 
He left no son. The son-in-law of the late Madame Huber, 
at whose house I last saw her, is a son of Herder's ; he is 
now settled at Augsburg, where his mother-in-law died. 

That unfortunate as well as fortunate events never come 
singly, has become a proverb ; and there must be some truth 
in it, or an appearance of such, to have made it an illustra- 
tion of the general experience. It is difficult, however, to 
maintain it against particular inquiry, for certainly both 
sad and pleasant events often occur alone. The principal 
reason for the common opinion is this, that after any very 
striking occurrence the attention will be especially called to 
those of a similar nature. If this association of similar 
events were really founded in the nature of things, a secret 
connexion between a man's inward disopsition and his out- 
ward destiny must exist a melancholy temperament pro- 
duce a melancholy lot, and the reverse. To a certain extent, 
considered in a worldly point of view, if it be not possible 



LETTER VI. 19 

to form in all its single threads a connexion between his 
inner and outer being, I fully believe that the one is inti- 
mately blended with the other; but I still doubt if grief has 
any secret power by which it draws to itself as by a moral 
magnet, the materials for fresh grief. Besides, the thing 
falls of itself, for it will be confirmed by experience that a 
joyful event frequently follows a sad one. Even in well- 
disposed minds, there may be a real sorrow that feeds upon 
itself; and if we maintain that time or other events will 
lessen it, these are words which have value only in a weak 
mind which fails to retain in its due strength the experience 
it has once acquired. It is the same with the most joyful 
occurrences. In this wondrous human mind, too, sorrow 
may exist at the same time with an emotion of a quite dif- 
ferent nature. Grief for the loss of children in the early 
period of a happy marriage is a lively and frequently re- 
curring example. It must be so. Man must appear sta- 
tionary, and destiny changeable : But destiny has its own 
stability, though unseen or unrecognised by us. 

****** 
I shall go to Gastein in a few days, and return here in 
the latter part of September. I am not at all ill : I am 
even so well, that I do not think a journey to the baths 
necessary. But my physician considers it desirable, and 
insists upon it, as I have been accustomed to it. The use 
of the baths is so strengthening, that it must do good. I 
am unwilling to leave this place, but I shall rejoice to visit 
the beautiful mountain district of Gastein, which I have 
loved ever since I knew it. I must ask you, dear Charlotte, 
to address your next letter, on the 4th of August, to the 
Baths at Gastein near Salzburg, not to pay the postage, and 
to write on the outside of the cover, that if I should not have 
arrived, it may wait there for me. I must further ask you 
to write again to the same address, and also unpaid, on the 
25th of August, and not to let the letter be a day later, as 
the course of post is very long. 



20 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

The physician, of whose dangerous illness I wrote to you 
in the winter, has happily recovered. The Privy- Councillor 
Bust is well known abroad, and you have probably heard 
of him : he was and still is our friend and physician. He 
is going this year to Gastein, but will visit another spa 
first, and then join me for a few days. After that he will 
pursue his journey further, and I shall return here as soon 
as I can. 

Farewell, and receive the heartfelt assurance of my 
earnest sympathy and friendship. Yours, H. 



LETTER VII. 21 



LETTER VII. 

BATHS of GASTEIN, Aug. 20, 1829. 

I feel convinced that with your accustomed kindness 
and friendship, and your usual punctuality, you wrote on 
the day that I fixed; but I have received no letter. The 
course of post is very tedious. As far as Salzburg the let- 
ters probably come without much delay, but from there the 
post comes here only twice a-week. If, therefore, a letter 
unfortunately arrives just after the post has left, there it 
lies unpitied ! I am sorry to think that in this way you 
may have been a long time without a letter from me. My 
last was written, as far as I remember, on the 29th of 
July, and ought to have reached you the last day of this 
month; but this will hardly come into your hands before 
the end of August. 

I have been since Sunday the 16th amongst these well- 
known mountains, and I occupy the same rooms as in 
former years. This is very pleasant, and an agreeable sur- 
prise, which occurred by chance; for this really was the 
work of chance. I had with my dear wife fixed upon other 
rooms, which had the advantage of enjoying the morning 
sun, and which were the best in the little castle (that would 
elsewhere bear the name of dwelling-house), and usually 
occupied by the Archduke John, who has now built a house 
for himself. To these I expected to go, and I was sorry to 
think that I should be deprived of the associations which the 
old rooms would inevitably awaken. But on my arrival I 
found that through forgetfulness or some mistake they had 
given one of the rooms to some one else, and had allotted 
our old ones to me. They made many apologies, which were 
unnecessary, as the change was very agreeable to me. 



22 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

The weather has been very favourable, as we have had 
no continued rain except for one day. The snow is still 
lying on some mountains, not far distant, but very high. 
But it shines in the bright rays of the sun, and it is 
pleasant to see at a glance the varieties of season. The sun, 
where it does shine, is very scorching, as it is reflected from 
the rocks. But here we never need be afraid of heat. The 
whole neighbourhood is shady, and a number of waterfalls 
give a refreshing coolness to the air ; indeed when you are 
cold it is difficult to find a warm sunny spot. When you 
have mounted a certain but very moderate height, you 
arrive at a level, open, sunny valley, surrounded by high 
mountains. This is my usual walk at noon : in very plea- 
sant weather I am accustomed to take a shorter walk before 
breakfast to the Gloriette. I have written to you so often 
from Gastein that I think I must have described the situa- 
tion of this place, so I will not weary you with a repetition. 
There is a sudden, theatrical, and picturesque prospect from 
it, but it requires the bright rays of the sun upon the snow- 
white foam of the waterfall; in gloomy weather it has no 
charm. 

I have travelled in eight days a distance of 110 miles. 
Such a journey is like reading a historical work : in this we 
pass through a course of time in that through a course of 
places. In respect to man, who is always the most im- 
portant object in all worldly considerations, and chiefly lays 
claim to observation, it happens in both cases that the 
individual is lost in the mass, the single existence appears 
to have no worth in opposition to the appointed destination 
of the greater or lesser whole to which it belongs. On the 
the contrary, the observer, the reader, or the traveller, feels 
his individuality. He cannot deny that this must be the 
centre of all his exertions; I do not mean in order to 
purchase external good, enjoyment, and happiness, but 
rather to provide for the health of his spiritual nature, with 
which all happiness is so intimately connected. 1 make use 



LETTER VII. 23 

intentionally of this expression, in order to close no channel 
by which man may strive after his spiritual improvement. 
For he may raise himself to a high degree of spirituality 
through richer and purer developments of his ideas, and 
more vigorous cultivation of his character, or by the shorter 
path of quiet unobtrusive piety. If we consider the world 
in a worldly point of view, the individual is either quite 
thrown into the shade, or borne along by the great stream. 
This impression arises from the consideration of the con- 
nexion of circumstances and the changes of this ever- 
renewed life on earth. What is the individual in the stream 
of circumstances 1 He does not disappear like an atom in 
an immeasurable, all-absorbing power, but in a higher, 
nobler spirit. For this stream does not rush on headlong, 
led by blind chance, but pursues its destined end, guided 
in its course by an almighty and all-wise hand. But the in- 
dividual does not live to see the attainment of this end : he 
enjoys a greater or less share of success, according to the 
measure of it ordained by chance, by which I merely under- 
stand uninvestigated providence ; he will often be sacrificed 
in the attainment, and must frequently leave his work sud- 
denly and in the midst of his labours. He is only an instru- 
ment, and does not appear to be even a powerful one, as, 
when the course of nature sweeps him away, his place is 
supplied ; for it would be absurd to suppose that the great 
objects of the Creator could be delayed a moment by any 
circumstance in the life of a weak individual. In the events 
of the moral world there is an aim; an idea is worked 
out; at least each must think so in reference to himself. 
In the order of material Nature it is otherwise. We can 
only say that powers arise and run their course as long as 
they are permitted. As long as one looks at a single in- 
dividual, he appears different from other men different in 
ability, health, length of life, &c. But if we look at a mass 
of living beings, they appear all alike. In every century 
the human race is renewed about three times; in a cer- 



24 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

tain number of years an equal number die. In short, it 
is evident that it is only in the masses, in the whole race, 
and not in the individual, that we perceive the results of 
established laws. We may say, and deeply feel, that an 
all- wise and all-good Power guides each exclusively; and 
nothing is so repugnant to the feeling of the individual, if 
they are painfully affected, as the consideration that he is 
merely one of a mass contemplated in respect to natural 
life. On this account it was that we were so shocked to 
hear, shortly after the French Revolution, the cool calcula- 
tion that the number of those who were sacrificed at the 
courts of justice composed a very small part of the popu- 
lation of France. In this view man shares the fate of all 
other life for the most part subordinate to him. The 
race passes away, and is renewed like the race of animals 
and plants that surround him. These reflections, which 
I have applied to the world at large, concern also the in- 
dividual being ; and as one cannot deny their truth, they 
would sink the spirit into desolate and helpless grief, if 
the inward conviction did not arise with its consoling in- 
fluence, that God constantly appoints the course of nature 
and of circumstances ; so that, including his existence in an 
eternal future, the happiness of the individual does not 
perish, but on the contrary grows and increases. True 
peace, true consolation, or rather the feeling that no con- 
solation is required, first arises when we leave all earthly 
considerations, and contemplate the appearances of Nature 
and the world as if from an exalted point of view. The 
Creator might have placed man in life only for His own 
pleasure : He might have given him up either to the blind 
changes of universal laws and progressive organization, or 
to an ideal aim of an ever-present, long-continuing whole, 
whose limits and true nature he is never in a position to 
survey. Every one on his entrance into life ought to be 
happy, happy in a deep and spiritual mind, whose hap- 
piness is an inward feeling arising from love and the ful- 



LETTER VII. 25 

filment of duty. In this disposition God guides and loves 
him, and considers him worthy of his protection. In him 
in the individual lies the aim and the whole power of life, 
and with this aim, the course of nature and events will be 
brought into harmony. Nowhere is the paternal care of 
God for the happiness of each so beautifully, so soothingly 
displayed as in Christianity, in the New Testament. It 
contains the simplest, but at the same time the most ex- 
citing and heart-stirring demonstrations of it. 

I must ask you, dear Charlotte, to write again to the 
same address. It cannot be helped if a letter from you 
arrives at Tegel during my absence. 

Farewell. I remain, with unchangeable friendship and 
sympathy, yours, H. 



VOL. II. 1) 



26 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER VIII. 

KEGENSBURG, Sept. 10, 1829. 

You see, dear Charlotte, by the date of this letter, that 
I am on my way home from Gastein, and that I have come 
a considerable part of the road. But I travel very slowly, 
and make very short daily journeys, for I think that those 
who have been under regimen at the baths should take care 
of themselves, and not rashly undo the benefit they may 
have acquired. They can strengthen themselves much better 
after having been at the baths, which will then continue to 
do good. I believe that I shall experience their good effects 
for the rest of the year. 

I am most deeply grieved, my dear Charlotte, to find 
from your letter that you are suffering from a sudden 
weakness in your eyes, and that it is accompanied with 
pain. But I might almost call this a consolation. As far 
as I know, pain generally accompanies temporary weakness 
of sight, and not that which leads to total blindness. You 
are right in saying that a continued or frequently returning 
weakness of sight would be more melancholy, and more to 
be pitied in you, than in many others. But I trust that 
yours will be merely temporary. As far as I know, you 
have never suffered from your eyes before. Serious diseases 
of the eye generally come on very gradually, or if they 
come suddenly, usually after some severe illness measles, 
nervous fever, or the like, which has not been your case. 
Your remark, that your complaint may have arisen from 
the peculiar state of the weather during this year, appears 
to me just, and it is to be hoped that it will pass away. My 
eyesight is sometimes better and sometimes worse, like 
yours. I suffer scarcely any pain, and it may get stronger. 



LETTER VIII. 27 

But I have no great idea of what is called strengthening 
the sight. Mine is no better if I spend a week at Gastein 
without reading or writing much, especially by a strong 
light; and no worse if I work much in the light. In time 
it may be different, but at present it is as I say. In my 
right eye a cataract is forming. That eye gives me little 
assistance in reading or writing, and if the other were the 
same I should be able to recognise objects only when quite 
close to me. This complaint is of many years standing, but 
it has advanced more rapidly during the last few years. I 
use my left eye only, and that also is gradually becoming 
weaker. I cannot read or write for any length of time 
without spectacles, and those which formerly appeared very 
powerful are now of little service. If I should live, which 
I neither desire nor believe probable, for eight or ten years, 
I can scarcely flatter myself that my eyes will accompany 
me to the grave. It is possible that I might submit to an 
operation on them, or at least upon one ; but I have often 
occupied myself with the thought that I shall become blind 
and remain so, for the operation is not always successful. 
I now believe that I am so prepared for the event that it 
would not be beyond my powers of endurance. I should 
bear it, I hope, with that resignation with which man should 
always bear human trials. I should retain as much of my 
activity as possible, and if a man can be active there is little 
fear for his happiness. But the mere idea of a misfortune 
is very different from the misfortune itself, when it comes 
with the fearful certainty of its presence; and I consider 
blindness the severest misfortune that could befal me. It 
is very possible that all present determination and prepara- 
tion may be shaken and quite desert me, if the day shall 
ever come which brings me no more light. We should 
trust to nothing so little, and labour in the acquirement of 
nothing so much, as the fortitude and self-control which 
are the only foundations of happiness on earth. Heaven 
appears to compensate the blind by infusing into their souls 



28 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

a gentle resignation and quiet patience. This I see in a 
person in Berlin, whom I visit from time to time on that 
account. I refer to a lady some years older than myself, 
who has been for six or eight years incurably blind of both 
eyes, but without pain, and without any disfigurement. 
She was formerly rich, and her husband held a respectable 
position j but she has lost almost all her property, and now 
has some difficulty in maintaining a bare existence. She 
has never taken any exercise, or even left her room, since 
she became blind. Three or four people visit her, but that 
very rarely. A maid-servant who is her only attendant, is 
also her reader, and she derives great pleasure from the 
occupation. In this situation, and this way of life, this lady 
assures those who see her, that however much an object 
of pity she may appear, she is really peaceful, calm, and 
happy, and that this period of her life is preferable to the 
earlier ones. This real and unaffected contentment with a 
lot usually considered so sad, seems to me very remark- 
able.* 

I was much shocked by an occurrence in Kegensburg, 
which took place in the inn where I was staying. I was 
told when I came that a Miss von Hiigel was dangerously 
ill in the house, and in the morning when I got up at eight 
o'clock she was dead. She had died about six o'clock. She 
was the daughter of Baron Hiigel, who was the imperial 
ambassador at Reichstage, and died some years since. She 
was about thirty years of age. I knew her in Vienna: she 
was beautiful, very amiable, and had a very sweet voice, 



* These remarks on approaching blindness may appear to many 
readers unnecessary and superfluous, for a high celestial spirit and 
a purer light has long since streamed into those weak eyes for which 
I was so painfully alarmed. To those who had the happiness to be 
near to him, and to find a pattern in all he was, did, and thought, 
it will appear otherwise, and for such only are these extracts from 
his heartfelt, spiritual letters intended. 



LETTER VIII. 29 

and considerable musical talent. She had been at Carlsbad 
with her mother, her younger sister, and her brother, a 
captain of horse in the Austrian service, and died here on 
her return. Such a death must be very bitter. 

I am not surprised that you were glad to read my 
brother's " Views," and that they gave you, as you say, 
high enjoyment. They aim at interesting all, and have not 
failed in their object. 

I had begun this letter at Eegensburg, and finished it 
here at Tegel, on the 19th September. I could not find 
time on the road. I considered too, that if I finished it in 
the course of my journey, the post would be longer, and 
that it would be better for you to receive it when your 
eyes were stronger. I not only wish this may be so with 
my whole heart, but I have also confidence that it will be 
so. I ask you to write to me as soon as you can ; I fix no 
day, because the sooner the more welcome, and because, 
even if you have got rid of the pain in your eyes, which I 
hope may be the case, you must still be very careful, and 
ought not to bind yourself to a certain day. With un- 
changeable and sincere friendship, yours, H. 



D2 



30 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER IX. 

TEGEL, Sept. 30, 1829. 

I received, a few days since, dear Charlotte, your letter 
of the 25th, and thank you for it. I am very glad to find 
that your eyes are so much better, and that you have found 
simple means to answer. I have a great opinion of such 
sensible and carefully-applied remedies. Your next letter 
will, I hope, bring me the intelligence that you are quite 
recovered. Pray do not be anxious on my account : I am 
not. It were foolish and unmanly to lose one's repose and 
balance of mind about what must occur in the nature of 
things. As long as I retain my faculties, this will never 
be my case. I know that corporeal organs must get weaker 
by use, and are liable to accidents, and I shall not expect 
that Providence should arrest the natural course of events 
for me. If I entertained this presumption, it would be a 
melancholy sign that I had lost the powers of mind which 
every reasonable man ought to possess. The weakness of my 
eyes is of long standing, and arose from an accident which 
befel me in my youth. Do not pity me, dear Charlotte. 
Even if my eyes were worse, I should not have lost what is 
necessary to a man's peace and contentment. By God's 
wise arrangement, man depends upon himself and not upon 
his outward circumstances. But my sight is not so weak 
just now. It is only difficult for me to read writing, and 
that I have not often to do. I feel no inconvenience in 
reading print, but I avoid very small or confused type. 
Writing does not hurt me at all. As I know what I am 
writing, and it is a very frequent occupation, it does not 
require much exercise of sight. 

You remark very justly, that in many cases an incipient 



LETTER IX. 31 

cataract remains at a certain point without leading to posi- 
tive blindness. This is very fortunate. In trials of this 
sort we must accustom ourselves to look steadily at both 
the greater and lesser evils connected with them. Blind- 
ness entails a two-fold suffering : we are unable to do many 
things for which eyesight is indispensable, and we are 
deprived of light, we are surrounded by darkness. This last 
I consider by far the worst evil ; for the mere sensation of 
light, quite abstracted from the perception of objects, is 
always pleasing and delightful, and seems to have some- 
thing in common with the purer spiritual life. Light is 
of all created things the least corporeal. It is connected, 
without our being able to say how, with life itself, and life, 
light, and air are, as it were, related always thought of 
together the first of created existences. It is wonderful 
how completely darkness loses its attraction when it be- 
comes a constant companion, for it must be admitted to be 
attractive as a sweet and welcome relief after the glare of 
day. But the pleasing emotion depends upon the conscious- 
ness that daylight has preceded it, and upon the security 
that daylight will again return. It is the alternation only 
that is agreeable. Eternal daylight, too, would weary. This 
is felt in the summer of the northern regions, where twilight 
is the only night ;< at least I never found this pleasant. 
But eternal darkness must have something much more me- 
lancholy in it : we should be exhausted by its wearisome 
sameness. It is tranquillity, but it is also a repulsive blank. 
From the want of external impressions, one is thrown back 
upon one's self, and yet with much less power of thought 
and action. A great trial to me would be the discontinu- 
ance of communication by letters except on mere matters 
of business; for who could bear to dictate a confidential 
letter, or to hear one read by another? The essence of 
epistolary correspondence is its immediate communication, 
and I should give it up if I were really to become blind, 
which I trust will not be the case. It is remarkable, that 



32 W. VON HUMBOLDT S LETTERS. 

judging by my present feelings, such an occurrence would 
drive me more from the companionship of others instead of 
leading me to seek it. I cannot quite explain this to myself, 
as conversation would seem to be the natural resource to 
charm away the time. It is perhaps that, without exactly 
knowing why, I am myself unwilling to be with the blind. 
As I am conscious that this is wrong, I struggle against 
the feeling when it arises, but the effort I make does not 
remove my repugnance. The sight of weak, or fixed and 
staring eyes, and even of a bandage over them, affects my 
whole frame. I can resist the emotion, but I cannot pre- 
vent its recurrence. A shade before the eyes, especially in 
a woman, is unpleasant to me. Habit has not removed 
this feeling : I have been with the blind every week for a 
year, but the impression remains the same. I still feel 
that if I were blind I should not seek the companionship 
of others. I know not whether this feeling is general, but 
I cannot divest myself of it. 

I perceive that I have been very egotistical, and must re- 
quest your forgiveness, dear Charlotte. On this point I wished 
to satisfy you, for I have this month been constantly occu- 
pied with the thought of blindness, as accidentally three or 
four intimate acquaintances have been in great danger of 
losing their sight, which they have had previously no reason 
to apprehend. It is no passing weakness from which they 
suffer, as fortunately is the case with you, but real incurable 
disease, which may advance more or less rapidly. Besides, 
I am desirous of looking firmly in the face every accident 
that can befal a man, for what can man do better on earth 
than learn to be a man ? 

Now I must stop, and repeat what I said before : Do not 
distress yourself about me. It is to be hoped there is 
nothing very serious. 

You asked me lately about that little work of my bro- 
ther's, entitled " The Genius of Rhodes." You wish to 
know whether it is entirely a fiction, or is founded on his- 



LETTER IX. 33 

tory. I forgot to answer this. It is entirely a fiction, and 
has nothing historical in it. It serves as a medium for some 
philosophical ideas, the development of which is the object 
of the work. In the times to which it refers, such half- 
poetical clothing of earnest philosophical truths was more 
popular than at present. I am glad you have been pleased 
with it. It is, as you say, a particularly interesting and 
pleasantly written book. 

If it is possible, I should like you to send your next 
letter on the 13th. I have been prevented finishing this 
till to-day, the 4th. Farewell. I wish sincerely that your 
eyes may be better. With unalterable sentiments of friend- 
ship, yours, H. 



It is a very wise rule in life, not to wish to be too strong 
and free from the inconveniences of old age and of bodily 
weakness. It is much better to bear with patience what 
is merely troublesome, and does not interfere with one's 
usefulness, and better still to be proof against unpleasant 
emotions. But when an evil increases very much and be- 
comes dangerous, it is natural to make an exception to this 
rule. 

We have beautiful October weather here, and it is ap- 
parently the same with you. Bright sunshine always im- 
parts to the soul a much more joyful tone than dark and 
dismal weather. Such is my case. Nevertheless I have 
the happy peculiarity, for happy it certainly is, that 
though sunshine is the most agreeable, dark or bad weather 
of any kind is not positively unpleasant to me, for its very 
diversity has a charm. It is so with many things : I am 
fully alive to their advantages, without feeling to the same 
extent the disadvantages of the reverse. I certainly prefer 
being well; but illness, which I have often had severely, 
does not put me in bad humour, and my first inclination, 
when something unpleasant occurs that is not associated 



34 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

with real affliction (and illness never is so), is to smile or 
laugh at myself. This is no stoicism, no greatness of soul, 
nor do I wish to make a merit of it. But it has always 
been agreeable to me, not so much to dwell upon pleasur- 
able emotions and to avoid painful ones, as to rejoice at 
the opportunity of knowing myself in different aspects, and 
gaining a control over my own character. An example will 
perhaps make clear what I mean. When I go to a play 
(which, however, is seldom the case now), it is not so much 
that I see the representation of this or that character, of a 
miser or a lover, &c. ; but what interests me is the manner 
in which the author brings his hero on the stage, how he 
lets him prosper in an intrigue, sustains his peculiarities, 
and carries him through all the scenes without losing sight 
of his individuality. It is the same in life. Life may be 
looked on as a drama. But the colouring of the poet, taking 
the inward truth of things, gives a higher tone to the affairs 
of life, and excites emotions of sorrow or of pleasure more 
worthy of nature than those we experience in actual life. 
I have gone through most of the vicissitudes in the life of 
man. They act upon me according to their nature, and 
the pleasure I feel in contemplating their purely distinct 
character counterbalances their immediate effect upon me. 
To some degree this is the case with all men. It is more 
or less so only as the mental constitution differs amongst 
men ; but otherwise all are alike. My tendencies are de- 
cidedly towards happiness, and I am very glad of it. I have 
evidently more pleasurable than painful emotions, and more 
happiness on that account. Whilst I seek the pleasurable 
less impatiently, and avoid the painful less loathingly, each 
comes to me unasked. It is a very certain thing in life that 
happiness generally comes uncalled, the less it is sought 
for its own sake. This is frequently insisted upon in the 
Scriptures, in noble and exalted images. 

# * * * * * 

My wife's grave-stone is now ready. It is a granite 



LECTURE IX. 35 

pillar, which stands upon a high pedestal. On the pedestal 
is the name of the deceased. On the pillar will be placed 
a statue of Hope, which my wife ordered some years since 
at Home, but which has only just arrived. The height of 
the whole will be about twenty-eight feet. At the back of 
the pillar there is a seat, and at the front an iron railing. 
The space will hold seven or eight graves, they will be 
made in the earth without any vault. Before the grave is 
a field and an uninterrupted view of the house ; behind and 
at the right is a thickly-wooded park. To the left again a 
field and a view of the sea. This very day the body will 
be laid in the new grave. The same clergyman and the 
same attendants will be here, but of the latter two will be 
absent; the one is dead, the other dying. 

Will you send your next letter on the 17th? This time 
I might well expostulate. A visit is not a very sufficient 
excuse. But your letter came at the right time. Farewell, 
yours, H. 



36 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER X. 

TBQEL, Dec. 24, 1829. 

I have never written to you from here so late in the 
year, my dear Charlotte. For many years I have been in 
town at this season, but in former happier times of my life 
I used to spend the winter in the country. What I did 
in the days of my happy companionship, I return to now 
that I am alone. This is the course of human life. 

It is very cold here to-day, and as you are at such a short 
distance it is probably the same with you. Still I have been 
out. I walk out every day at sunset. I am sorry to miss 
the very moment, and the half hour before and after are to 
me the best of the day in summer and winter. The moon 
then waits to show her gentle beams, when the superior 
splendour of the sun does not outshine her. To-day the 
sun went down so wrapt in clouds, that instead of his disk 
I could see only a dull yellow fog. If I always liked con- 
templative repose, and often resigned myself to it when I 
was amidst crowds of men and the throng of business, my 
present solitude depresses me still more. I have no inclina- 
tion for any particular employment. My scientific occupations 
are the most congenial to me; and I feel every day more and 
more, that pure and thoughtful self-contemplation calms 
the spirit and gives that peace which is certainly the work of 
God, but which, according to his declared will, must not be 
looked for by man as an outward gift, but must be worked 
out by himself by an effort of his will. I have always dwelt 
much upon the time when we shall all meet again, and now 
the more, since I have been bereaved of what afforded me 
every moment the purest joy, and been thrown back upon the 
cold sternness of life. I believe I shall spend my appointed 



LETTER X. 37 

years as I have done the last few months. Only some very 
remarkable event could bring a change ; nothing would be 
perceptible from less important occurrences. I look upon 
my life now as completed, a thing of the past. But I do 
not feel that this induces in me deeper contemplation of 
death and the future, but rather more reflections in con- 
nexion with the present life. I believe that this is not a 
peculiarity, but only a more powerful tendency in me than 
in others. When one is recommended to think on death, 
it is only as a warning against the levity that deems life a 
lasting gift. It should therefore be a spontaneous act of 
self-recollection. Besides, I know not whether the constant 
dwelling upon death, and what follows it, be healthful to 
the soul. I can scarcely decide, as it is more a thing of 
feeling than founded upon reason, but I believe not. The 
confidence arising from the trust in an all-good and all-just 
Being, that death is only the release from an imperfect and 
unfinished state, and a passage to a better and a higher, 
should be so present to a man that nothing can for a moment 
shake it. It is the foundation of inward peace and of the 
highest exertions, and an inexhaustible source of consolation 
in affliction. But the description of the possible condition, 
the imaginary painting of the future world, draws us away 
from life, and sets something apparently better in its place, 
as certainly the objects are more exalted after which one 
aims, but yet being quite intangible, the contemplation can 
serve no good purpose. God has also plainly shown that 
such a contemplation is not in accordance with his will, for 
he has cast an impenetrable veil over the future, and has 
left each in ignorance of when his own time of departure will 
be : a certain sign that the living should belong to life, and 
should adapt themselves to it. It appears to me, therefore, 
that the knowledge of our being in the last period of life is a 
warning to make the final effort to complete the life of the 
soul, to make it a whole. To be in the position to do this, 
that we may not be torn away in the midst of the active 

VOL. II. E 



38 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

employments of life, but have some space for leisure and 
repose, is a gift of providence that must not lie unimproved. 
I do not mean that we should do something, complete some- 
thing : what I am thinking of, can be done by every one, 
in every situation; I mean, to work within, to bring every 
feeling into perfect harmony, to make ourselves independent 
of outward influences, and so to form ourselves as we are in 
our brightest and most peaceful moments. The powers of 
each individual vary, and some demand a longer delay than 
perhaps the term of life will permit. But this I call the 
real aim of life ; this gives some value to life, and if ever a 
misfortune, which may befal those who appear the happiest, 
should cause me no longer to consider this the aim of life, I 
should condemn myself and strive to overcome the feeling. 
But a man cannot dwell in vain upon such an object in life. 
It must be the direction given to the soul, and, as the 
opportunity presents itself, the judging, approving, correct- 
ing principle : life is, at the same time, an outward occupa- 
tion, a real actual labour, in all stations and positions. It 
is not exactly this occupation, this labour itself, that pos- 
sesses great value, but it is as it were a thread with which 
to connect the thoughts and feelings, or by the side of 
which they run. It is the ballast, without which the vessel 
would have no firm hold of the waves of life. This is the 
view I take, upon the whole, of my scientific employments. 
They are preferable because they are associated with ideas. 
I have been so prolix in order to give you an idea of what 
I call my solitude and my joy. It is not an original senti- 
ment, but arising from my circumstances. The survivor of 
two is alone, and it is then a natural and allowable feeling 
to desire to remain alone. Then loneliness favours that 
self-meditation, that working at one's self, that completing 
and closing up of life of which I have spoken. At length 
come the studies, to which their place must be given. On 
this account I go very seldom to my children in the town, 
but I rejoice when they come here. First, people pity my 



LETTER X. 39 

absence of mind that is politeness : then they find that 
this retirement is natural at my age and in my situation 
this is the truth. Weariness of life, blindness to its joys, 
and a wish that it may end, have no place in my solitude. 

#**#** 
I have written to you, dear Charlotte, two letters which 
you had not received when you sent yours. I am anxious 
to receive an answer to them. I shall be very glad if you 
can write to me again this year. For that on which we are 
going to enter, accept my heartfelt wishes. May Heaven 
restore to you peace, joy, and happiness, and above all 
health and strength ! If I can in any way contribute to 
your happiness, it will afford me sincere pleasure. Now 
fare you well. Think of me with friendly regard, and trust 
with perfect confidence in my upright and unchangeable 
sympathy in all that concerns you. Yours, H. 



4:0 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XI. 

TEGEL, Jan. 26, 1830. 

You must have received two letters from me, dear Char- 
lotte, which are still unanswered, one of the 9th, the other 
of the 21st of January. Your last was not written at my 
request, but from your own impulse, and you would receive 
mine of the 9th, too late to answer it at the time I men- 
tioned. But I know that my letters give you pleasure, and 
as I have some leisure, I will write without waiting for your 
answer. Perhaps I may receive it before I close this letter, 
as there is an opportunity to-day from town. 

I wish very much to know how you are, and whether you 
have regained the peace and serenity I desire for you. I 
should rejoice yet more if my counsel has in any manner 
contributed to such a result. It must, however, really be 
your own work. It is a very true saying that a man's 
happiness lies in himself: the joyful events which Heaven 
bestows are only enjoyed when they are received by him 
in a right spirit, and the bitter and painful ones he has it 
in his own power to mitigate. 

* * * * * * 

For what admits of no alleviation and there certainly 
are such misfortunes God has created melancholy as a sort 
of medium between happiness and misery, joy and sorrow. 
It reduces sorrow to a feeling that we cannot give up, to 
which we cling, to which we resign ourselves with the con- 
sciousness that its eifects are not destructive but purifying, 
elevating, and improving in every way. It is a great thing 
when a man acquires the disposition to struggle against all 
that befals him, merely because it is human, because it re- 
sults from his earthly fate, to receive it as the destiny of 



LETTER XI. 41 

man, and to endeavour to develope his own nature more 
fully. The sooner a man acquires this temper the better. 
He can then say, for the first time, that he has really ex- 
perienced life. Man is placed upon the earth to live, and 
he can take away with him only what he has attained in his 
own soul. It is a very happy thing when he sets all his 
thoughts and feelings on one object. He is then safe for 
ever, he desires nothing more of fate nothing more from 
men, he cannot experience anything in respect to them 
but joy at their happiness. He fears nothing from the 
future. He cannot change what is unalterable; but the 
dwelling on one thought, one feeling, even if it be upon the 
most dreadful trial which can befal a man, would become 
only the dwelling on one remembrance which remains for 
ever. He who has attained this calm clinging to one re- 
membrance is possessed of all, because he wants and desires 
nothing else. Still more peaceful and blessed is naturally 
such a feeling, when this one thought is not of earth but of 
Heaven. But in a real, all-absorbing dwelling upon one 
feeling, even on an earthly one, there is something not all 
earthly, for the soul cannot completely attach itself to what 
is wholly of this world. The criterion of the genuineness 
of the feeling is its freedom from all restlessness, and all 
kind of longing wishing for nothing, asking for nothing, 
knowing no desire except to remain as it is. Therefore is 
the sentiment for the dead so sweet, so pure, so free from 
ardent desire, that it merges into the infinite without being 
destroyed : in its growth the soul acquires strength to resign 
itself to a gentle melancholy. Whenever the sentiments 
for the divine exist, they are indisputably the purest, the 
most refined from all earthly mixture. They have the pe- 
culiarity that they do not estrange us from the world, and 
yet they take the sting and the poison from all the real 
and threatened ills of life. As the thought of the lost one 
remains with those to whom it clung in life, so are they, 
instead of being led away from life, rather connected more 



42 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

closely with it : there are circumstances in every situation, 
in which one thinks of the dead as still sympathizing with 
us and feeling an interest in our progress through life. 
These connect the sorrow also with our present existence. 
It is a connexion which takes away the harshness of life, for 
we consider ourselves as only partially belonging to it. If 
our thoughts are all beyond this world if few are devoted 
to our present existence, what we are accustomed to fear in 
life may lose its terrors for one so armed against earthly 
fate. Time and eternity are united in the feeling of a rest 
that nothing can disturb. I always, even before I had the 
experience, thought that it must be so. I never thought 
it possible that there could be an imaginary compensation 
for a real loss ; and now that the lot has really fallen upon 
me, I feel it to be true. Yes, I perceive with great joy that 
the true and proper influence which such a loss must have, 
is more fully and powerfully developed with time, as the 
night grows deeper, the longer it lasts. The enjoyment 
which one experiences at the darkness of night and of 
which I have always been very susceptible is very like this 
feeling. One is alone, and wishes to be alone : he expects 
nothing from without, and a double life reigns within : 
day has been, and day will return. 

****** 
It is a fearful winter, and there is at present no prospect 
of milder weather. When we think of the distress it will 
occasion, it is pitiable. But I have never passed through 
one so easily. The peace and independence of the solitude 
in which I live are the causes of this. I walk out every day ; 
but except this daily exercise, I never leave the three rooms 
adjoining each other which I occupy. I cannot describe 
to you the effect of the sight of the unsullied snow-flakes 
and the constant brilliancy which streams upon them and 
the frozen lake from the sun whose rising and setting I see 
from my windows, from the moon in the evening, and from 
Venus and the other heavenly bodies. 



LETTER XI. 43 

Will you let me hear from you on the 2d, or at any rate 
during the first week in February ] Farewell, and be as- 
sured of my constant sympathy. Ever yours, H. 



44 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XII. 

TEGEL, March 5, 1830. 

I have been very uneasy about you, dear Charlotte. I 
asked you to write on the 25th, and I knew that if you 
were well you would do so, and yet I had no letter from 
you this morning. It appeared hardly possible that a letter 
should have taken a week to come, and yet I received my 
letters from Berlin early this morning. I thought you must 
be ill, or at least that you had been so, and I could not 
drive this thought out of my head. At last in the evening, 
when a second messenger arrived, I received your letter. 
I cannot tell you how I rejoiced to see your handwriting. 
The letter bore the postmark of the 25th. I cannot explain 
the delay. Perhaps I mentioned a day when the post did 
not leave, so that it might lie waiting. But I beg that if 
ever you should be prevented writing by illness, you will 
send two words to say what is the matter with you. It is 
very painful to think of a friend being ill, without knowing 
of what nature the illness may be. 

My health has been very good for some time. I have 
enjoyed the late fine weather very much, and have taken 
longer walks. There has been a sweet gentle breeze and 
the sunshine had a wonderfully enlivening effect. Once 
since I wrote to you, I have had a slight threatening of 
inflammation in my eyes; I suppose I took cold when I 
was out. I was quite well again by staying a day in the 
house, and refraining from reading and writing. I have 
been surprised that my sight has not suffered from the glare 
of the snow, which is considered very injurious to weak 
eyes, but mine appear to be proof against that irritation. 
But I always feel a kind of pain when I watch the setting 



LETTER XI. 45 

of the sun; as his disk touches the edge of the horizon I 
stand still and never avert my gaze till the last beam has 
disappeared. I write first about my health, because you 
say you always look first for that part of my letter. I 
wished you to find it at once, or I should have begun with 
the more important contents of your letter to which I now 
turn. 



17th. 

I received on the 6th your letter of the 1st, so that it also 
has been a long time on the road. But it may have lain 
two days in my house in Berlin. I wish the post were 
better regulated. Will you always now send your letters 
on a Tuesday, as you were accustomed to do 1 Your longer 
silence did not make me anxious this time. I was certain 
that you were not ill, as I had so particularly begged that 
you would send me word if that were the case. But I con- 
jectured the cause of your not writing, and I find from your 
letter that I was correct. It was too natural a feeling not 
to have arisen in your mind. Your present letter has given 
me great pleasure, particularly on account of the peaceful 
spirit that pervades it, which I entreat you to maintain, as 
it must assuredly be the most salutary for yourself. The 
real enjoyment of the blessings that remain in life can only 
arise from the cultivation of this spirit. Peace is the natural 
tone of a well-regulated mind at one with itself. External 
circumstances may threaten and may for a time unhinge 
the most placid disposition ; but a truly great soul does not 
yield to circumstances, and there are even women who unite 
this power of resistance with the greatest activity of mind 
and vigour of imagination. This we may admire, though 
we must not expect often to find it in them. But in a man 
it is an imperative duty, and he loses all just title to con- 
sideration who shows a deficiency in it. 



46 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

I am very well. I am free even from little ailments, and 
I can perceive no change in the state of my eyes : but I do 
not deceive myself with this. It is natural that a weakness 
once felt, or an incipient dimness, should remain. But the 
progress may be so unmarked that it may continue through 
the remainder of life without producing any great suffering. 
This will probably be my case. You are right in saying 
that difficulty in using the pen generally accompanies ad- 
vanced life. This want of power appears either as a trem- 
bling, or a state which I should rather call helplessness than 
weakness. In order that the handwriting should be firm and 
distinct, a number of very small and scarcely perceptible 
movements of the finger are required, which must be made 
rapidly and yet perfectly distinct from each other; and in 
old age the necessary pliability of the muscles is wanting. 
It is the same with all occupations which require equal 
strength in holding and supporting the hand. I do not 
think the use of the baths would remedy this. I have im- 
proved since I was at Gastein, for I am stronger now than 
I was last spring and autumn. Old age seems to advance 
gradually with years, but after an illness, or a great misfor- 
tune which nothing can alleviate, its progress is much more 
rapid. This has been my case. If I had not experienced 
the loss I have suffered, old age might have been delayed 
many years. But it was natural that my bodily powers 
should also suffer from the great change this loss has brought 
to me. This change I feel more and more every day from 
the sudden separation after thirty-eight years of compa- 
nionship, and the absence of that constant interchange of 
thought and feeling we so long enjoyed. This it is easy 
to bear while the health is as little affected as mine is. I 
can affirm I know not if you agree with me that old 
age is dear to me. It is a natural condition of humanity, 
to which God has appointed its own feelings and its own 
pleasures. If with a magic wand I could conjure for myself 
the possession of youthful strength and freshness for the 



LETTER XII. 47 

remainder of life, I certainly should not do so. Youthful 
strength and freshness would not suit the feelings of old 
age ; and these feelings, acquired through the course ^of a long 
life, I would not resign for anything in the world. What 
you say of my frame of mind I subscribe to so far as it is 
a gift from Heaven demanding the most heartfelt gratitude, 
and is no merit of mine. I am indebted for it in great 
measure to what has now ceased to be the immediate source 
of it. For if one is long beside a pure and truly great 
character, he is gradually imbued with a similar spirit. I 
should prove myself to have been unworthy of the posses- 
sion if I could do otherwise than live in inward peace on 
the remembrance, and, when the opportunity occurs, employ 
myself usefully and benevolently. 

It has been a very great satisfaction to me that my last 
two letters were of so much service to you. I have only 
this view in all that I write to you, and I beseech you so to 
judge every expression. We differ widely in our views of 
the inner life. It signifies little that all do not think 
alike : each must work out his own happiness in his own way. 
But when one fully agrees with the opinions of another, 
and gives himself up in confidence to them, they may ex- 
ercise a guiding influence. I wish that my letters may have 
an invigorating effect upon you. My earnest request to 
you, dear Charlotte, is, that you maintain the composure of 
your mind, and keep it open to the cheerfulness that may 
be found in every situation. We cannot always feel cheer- 
ful, but we may always keep ourselves open to cheerful 
impressions when they arise. 

Will you write to me not later than the 27th. If sooner, 
all the more welcome. Farewell, and rest assured of my 
uninterrupted and friendly sympathy. H. 



48 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XIII. 

TEGBL, May 6-9, 1830. 

Accept my sincere thanks, dear Charlotte, for your let- 
ter of the 27th of April, which I received at the proper 
time. I am very well, and have myself experienced no bad 
effects either from the wet spring or the severe winter, 
though many have suffered from ague in consequence. I 
have somewhat changed my mode of life for the summer. I 
now rise regularly at six o'clock, and go to bed at the latest 
at midnight. The morning hours have the greatest charm 
for me, so I am writing to you early, my dear friend: it 
is my first occupation to-day. Neither late nor early rising 
has any effect upon my sleep. . . . The night has in it 
something inexpressibly sweet. The calm ideas and images, 
when one can enjoy such as those I used frequently to ex- 
perience, assume a softer, more beautiful, even a spiritual 
tone, and their enjoyment is all within, as in the deep 
stillness there is nothing, not even light, to disturb them. 
Sorrowful or painful recollections and impressions are ren- 
dered milder, arid are imbued with the repose which makes 
every affliction lighter and less distressing. We may yield 
to grief more calmly, and a thoughtful mind does not seek 
to drive away sorrow, at least not to destroy it, but to bring 
it into harmony with the whole being, that it may remain 
the companion of life. I can now rejoice at the long winter 
nights, and have, as I say, often felt this in former winters. 
If, on the other hand, we think how joyful and beautiful 
light is, we feel with grateful astonishment what a treasure 
of enjoyment nature has laid up in the daily change. The 
only thing required is to have a disposition to enjoy it, and 
this is in every man's power. Everything which surrounds 



LETTER XIII. 49 

us contains, independently of its own destination and ma- 
terial use, food for reflection, and enjoyment for the mind 
and the soul : the more we give ourselves up to such con- 
templations, the more this deeper signification is displayed, 
which belongs partly to the objects which suggest it, and 
partly to ourselves who discover it. Man need only look at 
the clouds. In themselves they are merely shapeless mist 
and vapour arising from damp and heat, but seen from the 
earth, how they animate the sky with their form and colour, 
and how many fancies and feelings they call forth in the 
soul! 

I shall set out, my dear Charlotte, on the 2d of June, 
and on the 2d of August, or a few days later, I shall return 
here. I go first into Silesia, and thence to Gastein. You 
will perhaps wonder at this, as I am so well. But it is wiser 
to go to the baths whilst one is well, than to wait to be ill. 
I preserve my health by my very regular manner of living, 
by my residence in the country, even by the frame of 
mind which I cultivate, in which no external desire agitates 
me, and the only inward one has never caused me any de- 
solate feeling. I was formerly more excited by active life, 
and sometimes more unsettled; whatever made life more 
joyous was also an occasion of anxiety. But my physician 
recommends the change, as Gastein has always had a bene- 
ficial effect upon me; and as my only objection to the 
journey is my absence from this place, I follow the advice, 
without, however, implicitly believing in its importance. I 
shall again have the old rooms at Gastein which I formerly 
occupied with my wife, so that I shall be surrounded by 
the same associations as those in which I live here. 

I hope that you will pass the summer in the peace and 
tranquillity which your mind is formed to enjoy, and also 
that you will give yourself up to the contemplation of the 
most blissful and exalted sentiments that can occupy the 
mind. Your last letter, and even the one before, appeared 
to me to show that you were beginning to attain this tone 

VOL. II. F 



50 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

of mind. Do what you can, dear Charlotte, to regain your 
former tranquillity. I will gladly do what I can to con- 
tribute to this end. I am convinced that you have perfect 
confidence in my assurance that it grieves me to know you 
have been so long in a depressed state, and I wish you could 
speak more freely of your troubles.* 

What you say of George Jacobi's Travels has interested 
me very much. I remember hearing of the book. Fare- 
well. With sincere and unchangeable sympathy, yours, 

H. 



* What at this time depressed me so much, was of such a nature, 
that with the utmost trust in my good and honoured friend, I could 
not confide it to him. In part, my sufferings arose from the wound- 
ing of tender chords of feeling by another; and, in part, my state 
of mind was unintelligible even to myself. It was a painful web of 
real, not imaginary suffering, which could only be borne in silence, 
but which robbed the spirit of all elasticity, and the mind of all 
tranquillity. 



LETTER XIV. 51 



LETTER XIV. 

TEQEL, May 29, 1830. 

I received your letter of the 16th a few days since, my 
dear Charlotte, and, as you foresaw, it has given me double 
pleasure, because it is written in so calm and cheerful a 
tone. I wish nothing more than that you may remain in 
the same frame of mind, and this you may certainly do if 
you do not indulge yourself in gloomy and mistaken views 
of life, but strive after that peace which will render you 
independent of all external circumstances. Without this 
inward struggle after an attainable peace, a man always 
remains the sport of circumstances, and loses or regains 
his balance of mind as these are favourable or adverse. The 
entire discontinuance of walking is the deprivation of a great 
enjoyment, if we have become accustomed to it : I have ex- 
perienced this myself. The want of exercise, however, I 
have never suffered from, though many do so : but one never 
enjoys Nature so much as in a long walk with no other 
object ; for the very essence of a walk is the not being tied 
down to any particular purpose. Soul and body must be in 
perfect freedom; one must scarcely have a motive to turn to 
this or the other side. The exercise promotes ideas, and 
one may think of something important, or be lost in dreams 
and fancies, which make greater progress with the motion 
of walking, and one feels himself more light-hearted and 
cheerful. Only a short time since it occurred to me that I 
obtained during a walk the comprehension of an idea which 
had been long in a crude state. I had often in vain worked 
at it, and suddenly, whilst I was out, it came clearly to me, 
and on my return home I committed it to writing immedi- 
ately. But I never go out in the morning. I am perhaps 



52 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

wrong, but I have been so little accustomed to it, that I 
cannot do it. But I enjoy the sight of the green fields and 
trees from my windows, where the light of the morning sun 
on the foliage gives such a beautiful and remarkable effect 
of light and shade. 

I have been reading lately Goethe's second Travels into 
Italy, or rather for it is no description of a journey his 
letters from that country. You speak at the same time of 
Jacobi's. I have never read the Travels, but I have heard 
the book praised, and know the traveller well. He studied 
with me at Gottingen, and was, if I mistake not, a com- 
panion of your brother's. He was an amiable man, and very 
industrious, and yet I avoided his companionship, as for 
my inclination he was in too many students' clubs. What 
you tell me from his Travels respecting the pomp of the 
churches, is very true and very striking : how imposing it 
would be for a truly pious feminine spirit like yours to find 
constantly in the open churches a refuge and " asylum," as 
you say, for its deepest wants. I have been reminded of 
something by your remarks. You have perhaps heard of 
Fernow, who has written much on art and literature, and 
also a valuable Italian Grammar. He was many years in 
Rome, and married there a woman who was of low station 
and had served as a housekeeper. After he had been 
married some time he returned to Germany with his wife 
and lived in Weimar. The residence there did not suit her, 
and she died soon it might be from home-sickness. It 
was remarkable what she was continually repeating, " How 
poor and how dark ! " The last expression one may easily 
understand as referring to the sunlight, but the " poor" 
was remarkable, as in Rome she must always have been sur- 
rounded by poverty. It must have referred to the churches, 
which are bright, large, and magnificent, and in every way 
rich. These she considered as belonging to her life, her daily 
association. The churches in the Italian towns, and in all 
Catholic countries, are open all day from the early morning 



LETTER XIV. 53 

till late at night, and any one can go in and remain as long 
as he chooses. Every one looks upon them as his own 
property, and this woman must have done so. However 
poor she might appear in her home, the power and glory of 
the church were hers. There is also, as you remark, and as 
it appears to me also, in another respect a praiseworthy 
custom, that gives to each an opportunity, in any moment 
when he feels the inclination, to be able to go to a place 
where he may find stillness and solitude, or ceremonies 
that are suited to his frame of mind a place which infuses 
a feeling of reverence as soon as he steps into it, arid ex- 
ercises a soothing influence. Our evangelical churches are 
too much considered as places appointed for preaching, and 
too little thought of as intended for the religious elevation 
of the mind by prayer and meditation. 

Goethe's Letters from Italy really tell nothing of Italy or 
Rome. They are not at all descriptive. One must be well 
acquainted with the places from having seen them or read 
other travels, in order to understand his remarks. But they 
paint Goethe himself, beautifully and interestingly, and 
show what Rome and Italy are through the impression they 
made on himself. At all events, they form part of a very 
remarkable delineation, for we know what incredible long- 
ings Goethe had for years to see Italy and Rome. 

I set off early to-morrow, and go to Breslau. Farewell. 
Trust always to my unchangeable sympathy. Very truly 
yours, H. 



54 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XV. 

OTTMACHAU, June 22, 1830. 

I received your letter of the 6th and 7th some days 
since, my dearest friend, and I thank you much for it. I 
am sorry that mine of the 29th of May was later in reach- 
ing you than it should have been. I set off from Berlin on 
the 3d, and finished my letter on the day of my departure. 
My journey has been very pleasant. I have had no reason 
to complain of any inconvenience. The weather has been 
beautiful and without rain, which I dislike when I am tra- 
velling. I came by Breslau, and arrived here at seven in 
the evening, where I found my eldest son and his wife. I 
travel alone, without any of my children. I had no illness 
to occasion the use of the baths, and I prefer being alone 
on a journey. It would be the same if I were older or more 
delicate. Whatever assistance a man requires when he is 
old or ill, it is much pleasanter to receive from servants. 
Children, relations, friends, command too much respect for 
this : it is delightful to see them and to talk to them, but 
to trouble them with our bodily weaknesses is, at least in 
my opinion, not making a proper use of the blessing they 
are intended to be to us in life. 

I shall leave Ottmachau to-morrow, and spend a couple 
of days with a friend of many years' standing, who lives in 
the country in the province of Glatz. I shall then pursue 
my journey, so that I may reach Gastein by easy stages on 
the 1st of next month. I go by Prague, but not by Vienna. 
Though many people go to the country in summer, yet 
some always remain in town whom I could not avoid seeing, 
and my time will not allow me to stay. Besides, Vienna 
has never been a favourite town of mine, and it would give 



LETTER XV. 55 

me no great pleasure to see it again. I was twice there : 
the first time, many years since, soon after I was married, 
and later, with my wife and children on my way to Paris. 
A long period of time, as you know, elapsed between the 
two visits. Town and society have always left the same 
impression upon me. Lintz, on the contrary, which lies on 
my road, is a pretty, pleasantly situated town, and I shall 
be glad to visit it again. In coming to a town, one must 
not think first and chiefly of the situation, but consider how 
one should like to remain there ; for we ought to calculate 
upon spending life alone. A man can be of importance to 
others only when he is himself happy, and nothing tends 
to this so much as the contemplation of nature ; so I hope, 
if I remain well, to reach Gastein easily though not expe- 
ditiously. It seems strange enough to undertake a distant 
and precarious journey in perfect health, to gain an uncer- 
tain good for the next year. You will ask me, dear friend, 
why I do it, if I do not see the propriety of it? My prin- 
cipal reason is, that if I should be ill in the winter, which 
may be the case with any one, I may avoid the complaints 
of my physician and others that I would not obey them, 
but out of my own head neglected to continue the use of 
the baths, which has agreed with me so often. I have a 
great dislike to all conversation about my health, all seek- 
ing for reasons, regrets, and disquiets. It is useless and 
foolish not to submit quietly to what is inevitable ; and as 
this appears inevitable, it is my principle, without having 
perfect faith in his infallibility, to follow the physician whom 
I employ, and to allow myself no deviation from his direc- 
tions. Then he is answerable for the consequences, and I 
have nothing further to do. On this account, and not from 
my own confidence in its efficacy, I use the bath at Gastein. 
For myself, I have greater confidence, as a means for the 
preservation of my health, in a simple, uniform, rational 
mode of life, which keeps a man generally at home. 

You speak in your letter of thunder-storms. We have 



56 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

had many here, but, thank God, without any injury. I 
have never from my childhood had any fear of thunder. 
The sight of some very timid person who was once in our 
family, I believe, cured me, or rather protected me from it. 
Nevertheless I cannot sympathize in your wish to be struck 
and killed by thunder, or rather by lightning. There is 
certainly something imposing in the idea of being as it were 
touched by Heaven ifself. But the lower regions of clouds, 
from which the thunder proceeds, belong rather to earth, 
and are even less mysterious than earth itself. The fire 
which is nourished by nothing on earth is certainly the purest 
element, and when the stroke kills immediately, the death 
may be a happy one, as it appears to be without pain. But 
last year a case occurred here in which a man struck by 
lightning did not die till next day. He was an old in- 
valid; he fell down insensible, but consciousness returned, 
and he appeared well and uninjured. The following day, 
however, delirium ensued, and carried him off in a few hours. 
Such cases, however, may be rare. But I should not desire 
so sudden a death. We know so little of death, that I 
would commit it all to Heaven. I should avoid even the 
appearance of causing the sudden event by a wish. Man 
conies into the world without memory or knowledge: to 
be enabled to leave it in a state of complete consciousness, 
is worthy at least of an effort. It appears to me as if we 
knew not the whole of life, if the hour of death be not in- 
cluded in it. I seek to dwell only on the present moment, 
and to keep myself free from all thoughts on the past and 
the future. But no one can say how he shall feel at such 
a moment. In what can be experienced only once, no one 
can answer for himself. The timid may become courageous, 
and the courageous timid. No preparation can avail, for 
no one knows what he has to prepare for. Death is but a 
word to us. One's own experience alone can teach us the 
real meaning of the word. The sight of the dying does 
little. What one sees of them is merely what precedes 



LETTER XV. 57 

death: dull unconsciousness is all we see. Whether this 
be so, how and when the spirit wakes to life again, this 
is what all wish to know, and what never can be known 
until it is experienced. 

That is a very beautiful part of your letter in which you 
say that you consider life as a casket in which a man can 
lay up all the treasures he possesses. It is a remarkably 
happy expression. Man can make of life what he will, and 
give as much value to it for himself and others as he has 
strength given him. This is to be understood only in a 
spiritual sense, as man has not external circumstances in 
his own power : but over his spiritual and moral nature he 
has perfect control. Life, even in critical situations, when 
we cannot attain more than a certain degree of peace of 
mind, has in the truest acceptation of the term an inesti- 
mable and incalculable value. It is my firm conviction that 
a man has himself to blame when he finds it devoid of in- 
terest and happiness. 

I am exceedingly glad to see by the whole tenor of your 
letter that you are gradually regaining your former peaceful 
and cheerful tone of mind, which I have so much wished to 
see reestablished. I feel that another can do little or no- 
thing towards it, but no struggle to keep the mind open to 
any joyful impression is ineffectual. I consider this more 
likely to do good than the endeavour to drive away un- 
pleasant ideas, which, besides being more difficult, is less 
successful. 

I was interrupted at Ottmachau, and could only finish 
this letter here at Prague to-day, the 26th. It is too late 
for to-day's post, but I shall take it early to-morrow to the 
nearest post-office. Farewell. With deep sympathy and 
friendship, yours, H. 



58 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XVI. 

GASTEIN, July 17, 1830. 

Thank you, dear Charlotte, for your delightful punctu- 
ality. True to my determination, I arrived here on the 1st 
of July, and received your kind letter as I expected. You 
see that, according to your wish, I begin with the old ap- 
pellation of your Christian name. I too prefer it, and had 
no object in changing, except that I fancied you preferred 
the appellation of " dear friend." Yet I had no sufficient 
reason for this; it was only a supposition. But there was 
really little change, as both convey the same impression to 
me. But I thank you for the remark, and still more for 
the request. I will never again call you by any other name. 
Between husband and wife I always liked the use of the 
Christian name, and used it myself. I did not wish myself 
to be so addressed, because I dislike the name of William, 
and it is only for the sake of distinction that I ever sign it. 
I like it in no language, and from childhood it has been 
unpleasant to me. I never call those by their names who 
have not pleasing ones, even if I should otherwise wish to 
do so. For instance, I do not like the name of Henrietta. 
For the name of Charlotte I have, as I have often told you, 
a great predilection, but I do not like the abbreviation. 

You wish to know first about my health, which is a subject 
I should willingly pass over. It is really as good as I can 
wish it to be. I can hardly call it the result of the regimen 
here, for I was well when I came, and the baths could but 
leave me the same. Indeed they have done more. They 
strengthen, or have some healing effect, without one's being 
exactly conscious of any change. The pleasing sensation of 
the bath itself, which is owing to the nature of the water, 



LETTER XVI. 59 

cannot be described. I cannot say that the use of it is 
weakening, and yet I feel more tired in the evening than at 
home. This may be owing to climbing the hills, and to the 
influence of the air, which is fatiguing to those who are not 
accustomed to it. One consequence of the latter is certainly 
a great appetite. I do not eat more than at home, because 
I keep an invariable rule in eating and drinking; but the 
food is very bad, and I eat here on the mountains what I 
should leave untouched at an inn on the plain. The weather 
is changeable. It was most beautiful when I came. I have 
had a fire for some days, and others have the same. To-day 
it is bright again, and it is remarkable how brilliant every- 
thing looks as soon as the sun shines. I wish you could see 
it. I have generally been able to go out once or twice every 
day. The bad weather at this time of the year generally 
arises from thunder-storms, which are frequent on the high 
distant mountains, but are only felt here by the changes of 
weather and of the temperature. All the mountain-streams, 
too, swell with the rain. I have never seen the waterfall so 
full, and I think we have never had so much thunder. The 
waterfall is very near the room I occupy, which is the one I 
had when here with my lamented wife, but I have not now, 
as in former years, her sitting-room. 

I am spending my time pleasantly in society occasionally, 
but chiefly in solitude. I have met with only one person 
here whom I know a very old man from Munich. I avoid 
having many acquaintances, and am very rarely even with 
him. I am not desirous, as many are, of doing everything 
in society. It is particularly annoying when people join 
you in a walk; there is then no escaping from them. 
****** 

You write, dear Charlotte, of your earnest longing for 
peace of mind. It certainly cannot be said that a person 
can procure for himself this peace under all circumstances ; 
but still he may do much. I have not always had the 
tranquillity and calmness which you praise, and I know 



60 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

how many struggles it has cost me to acquire it. I remain 
by my simple conviction that the inward feeling of happi- 
ness is no gift of fate, and comes not from without : a man 
must himself attain it by unceasing efforts; and it is con- 
soling to know that it may always be so attained. God 
himself cannot make a man always or generally externally 
happy, always healthy, rich, and successful to the extent 
his wishes. He has with greater wisdom made man subject 
to the conditions of humanity, and these do not always 
permit such success. But inwardly happy he can always 
make us, for he has placed the requisites for this in our 
hearts: reverence, adoration, and love for Him, and trust 
in Him, these are the feelings through which his peace 
comes to us. You know and feel all this, and it would be 
impossible to say anything new to you on the subject. I 
can only urge you to cultivate those tranquil feelings you 
do possess, and particularly to avoid any disturbing influ- 
ences. I am very much grieved not to see you more cheer- 
ful. But I must repeat it, another, however sincere may 
be his interest, can do little or nothing to assist you in this. 
There is nothing in your circumstances to cause any hin- 
drance to your attaining entire composure of mind. 

You express a wish to send, besides your letters, some 
notes in which you may express your sentiments on va- 
rious subjects and ideas, on which you desire my correc- 
tion, and you ask whether and how often you may send 
them. Everything that gives you pleasure gratifies me : I 
have no objection to the plan, and your notes shall always 
be welcome. But I can hardly tell you when you should 
write and send them. Send them unhesitatingly as often 
as you like, and do not be uneasy. You fear, as you say. 
that they may accumulate. But nothing can be determined 
beforehand respecting it. You know, dear Charlotte, that 
I am always willing to enter into your ideas ; and I repeat 
again, that I wish you would live less in the material world, 
and elevate yourself by spiritual contemplations, which 



LETTER XVI. 61 

above all things raise us beyond earthly limits, and relieve 
us from earthly pressure. Once more, write and send as 
often as you like. But you must forgive me if it happens 
that I do not read and answer in my next letter all you 
send ; for the time I can devote to friendly correspondence 
is limited, and I must be careful of my eyes; so I must 
request your kind forbearance. Farewell. Ever yours, 

H. 



VOL. IT. 



62 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XVII. 

TEGEL, August 12, 1830. 

I returned here safely on the evening of the 2d, and I 
feel quite at home again. I met with no accident on my 
journey. The heat was frequently intense, but I do not 
suffer from that. For part of the way the dust was very 
troublesome, but it has not injured my eyes. What I en- 
joy most is the thought that I have again a year before me 
during which I am certain not to leave this place. I prize 
this assurance for two reasons: I shall have repose and 
uninterrupted residence in the same place, and besides, I 
am particularly attached to this spot. I have not the same 
predilection for Berlin, but I am tied to it by so many cir- 
cumstances that I prefer it to any town in Germany. Be- 
sides, my position here enables me to enjoy the advantages 
always connected with a residence in the neighbourhood of 
a town, i. e. receiving visits, &c., and yet having the power 
to avoid what would annoy me. Not that there is more to 
disturb one in Berlin than in any other town, but one is sub- 
ject in all to the necessity of seeing something of society. 
Though I have in a great measure relieved myself from this 
necessity, the trouble of obtaining this relief, in itself a 
burden and an annoyance, is continually recurring ; for the 
people cannot believe in the continuance of a wish for such 
an abandonment of society, and they endeavour again and 
again to draw me into closer association with them. It is 
not that personally I have much to do with them; but 
they cannot bear that any one should differ from them, or 
do otherwise than as they do. 

I cannot describe to you with what calm and heartfelt 
joy I return home again. I am always glad to be with my 



LETTER XVII. 63 

children, and this is the only society that can give me 
much pleasure, because it is connected with my deepest 
feelings, and is one with that which binds me to the re- 
membrance of the past. Every object here is in harmony 
with my tone of mind. Under all circumstances, even dis- 
turbing ones, and in situations which are not favourable to 
the work which I purpose to do, I am in the habit of still 
working, and I feel convinced that the work does not pros- 
per less than under circumstances apparently more favour- 
able. I have my work at Gastein too, and have generally 
accomplished what I have undertaken. But I never work 
anywhere so willingly as here. It appears as if thoughts 
and feelings returned more easily among the natural objects 
where they have recurred the most frequently, and as I 
have been here for a longer or shorter time in all the various 
periods of my life, I can here better than elsewhere go 
through the whole circle of my individual opinions. For 
the rest of the year I have fixed my residence at Gastein, 
and have smiled at myself whilst I appeared serious. The 
man who can be secure of no one day following another, 
yet forms his plans for a year, and considers them as cer- 
tain! This appears to me doubly singular in respect to 
such a thing as a journey to the baths. It is very much 
my habit, and even according to my principle, in forming 
my plans for life and arranging my labours and employ- 
ments, not to reckon upon the possible interruption which 
death may cause, nor to calculate upon the probable dura- 
tion of life. I should undertake the longest piece of work 
without a consideration of the sort. We accomplish as much 
as is permitted by a fate that is often sudden and unex- 
pected : sometimes a longer time may be allowed ; at others, 
circumstances demand the work more quickly. If a man 
is called away suddenly, the thread is cut, and he enters 
upon a state of which he knows nothing, but of which he 
can assert with confidence that there no feeling of regret 
for work left unfinished here will be allowed to enter. 



64 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

I received your letter with great pleasure, dear Charlotte, 
and the contents have gratified me still more. I am very 
sorry that my letters reach you so late, but I am not sur- 
prised at it. Letters which are posted during a journey, 
when one does not know exactly the day of the departure of 
the mail, are very likely to be mistimed ; besides, the course 
of post between Gastein and the eastern provinces is very 
tedious. Some, who are always inclined to be suspicious, 
believe that the letters are taken to Vienna, where they 
are opened and read. I cannot believe this with respect to 
letters whose address shows that they contain nothing of 
political interest, but refer to private affairs only. I think 
the irregularity arises from other causes, very probably 
from the arrangements of the post-office. Neither ought 
we to be too ready to believe the charge sometimes made, 
that the letters are sent by a circuitous route for the sake 
of the increased postage. 

It has given me very great pleasure, dear Charlotte, to 
perceive that your tone of mind is more peaceful and cheer- 
ful, more in harmony with life, than was formerly the case. 
I earnestly entreat you to do all you can to maintain this 
temper. Experience will confirm to you what I have so 
often said, that man can do much for himself. God would 
not have given to man a disposition so excitable, and so 
easily moved to grief and sorrow, if he had not bestowed 
at the same time strength to control the feelings and to 
moderate the grief. He gives nothing directly; it is His 
will that man should always attain His blessing through 
his own efforts we cannot say deserve it, for the human 
cannot in this way reach the divine. Man and his actions 
must be the medium for all that God bestows, as if it were 
his own work alone. The seed that produces the fruit of 
the spirit goes through the same process as that which 
springs from the earth. The fruit will not come immediately 
from God, nor from Nature : it must go through all the 
conditions necessary to bring it to perfection, and if man, 



LETTER XVII. 65 

even under the most favourable sky, and with the most 
fruitful soil, wishes to be certain of his harvest, he must 
bestow his labour and " the sweat of his brow." This is 
still more the case with the fruit of the spirit and the 
heart. But the certainty of success is here greater : no 
disturbing influences of nature can offer interruption here. 
When unfavourable dispositions arise, strength is given to 
the soul to struggle against them, and a higher blessing 
then crowns success. The success of these efforts is exactly 
in proportion to the earnestness with which a man strives 
to attain the end. With respect to yourself, dear Charlotte, 
it does not appear to me that any painful effort or struggle 
is necessary : all that is required is merely to keep yourself 
open to cheerful impressions and tranquil feelings, which 
exercise a favourable influence upon the heart, and which 
must arise in rich abundance in such a mind as yours. In 
reference to this, I consider it very important, as I wrote 
to you lately, that you should engage in some intellectual 
occupation. You will then, led by this interest, seek 
recreation from your customary work in this employment. 
On this account I am very glad that you speak in your 
letter of a leisure time which you have in prospect.. 

I have been interrupted several times. Farewell. Yours. 

H. 

[NOTE BY THE EDITRESS.] 

It could not escape my observation that every benevolent and 
delicate allusion was but a preparation for what must come, and it 
was impossible to deceive myself respecting the final issue. These 
presentiments filled my heart with sorrow. The kind and inspiring 
letters were still regular and unabridged, but alas ! they were written 
with greater effort, and were more difficult to decipher. How could 
my deeply sorrowing heart retain its cheerfulness when it was op- 
pressed by such threatening forebodings ! Every letter expressed his 
tender consideration and earnest desire to elevate my tone of mind, 
and to lead me to prepare myself for what was inevitable ; this is 
the tenor also of the next letter. 



G 2 



66 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XVIII. 

TEGEL, Sept. 7, 1830. 

Your letter of the 31st has given me much pleasure, 
dear Charlotte, because it is written in a tranquil, really 
happy spirit. I thank you very much for it. I have now 
resumed all my old habits. My state of health is as good 
as I could desire, and I do not know that I have anything 
to complain of; but when you speak of my robust health, 
the expression requires some limitation. My health is good, 
because I do not suffer any pain, and because I maintain 
and promote it by the regularity of my mode of life. But 
the signs of advancing age are very apparent in me, as in 
other men who number as many years, and I am even less 
vigorous than is usual at my age. Another sign of declining 
strength you may perceive in my handwriting, the uneven- 
ness and want of firmness in which arises, not from defi- 
ciency of eyesight, but entirely from want of power in my 
hand. This is certainly the consequence of age, but it has 
come so early and so suddenly upon me, that I must consider 
it rather as the consequence of the great trial I endured in 
my wife's death. When a man's married life has been like 
mine and no second union can be the same the rending 
asunder of these ties is not merely a change of circum- 
stances, but it necessitates the entering upon an entirely 
new life. I do not complain I do not weep; the death 
of a person, particularly in advanced age, is a natural oc- 
currence, inseparable from humanity. I look for neither 
help nor consolation, for the grief which seeks these is not 
the highest, and does not come from the depths of the 
heart. I am not unhappy : indeed I am happy and contented 
in the only way that I can be so now, but I am not as I 



LETTER XVIII. 67 

was in former years. I associate with men and the world 
only so far as I can derive ideas from them, or so far as I 
can be useful to them. But I have no other wish than to 
be alone : every interruption to my solitude, every visit, if 
it be only for an hour, is unpleasant to me, even if I like 
those who seek me. I do not wish to indulge this feeling, 
but it has gathered strength during the last year, and I 
have no doubt that it will continue to do so. You may 
suppose, that as I lived so long in Berlin I have amongst 
my acquaintances many very intimate friends of both sexes. 
I was accustomed to see them every week or oftener, but 
since my unhappy loss I have not seen them above three 
or four times. They feel for me, and a natural delicacy 
prevents their intruding upon me without a particular in- 
vitation. But I invite no one; I leave that to my children; 
and if any one is with them I do not like to be obliged 
to see them. I tell you this, because you wish to have an 
idea of my situation. 

My eyes are no worse, but they are not likely to be 
better. Nay more, as a man should look upon all things 
firmly, I say to myself that this weakness must increase 
with age, and that not improbably a time will come when I 
must give up reading and writing. I have already given up 
doing so by artificial light. I often sit for three or four 
hours together in the evening, apparently doing nothing; 
but I cannot say that this time is useless to me, and still 
less that it passes away unpleasantly. This musing upon 
ideas and remembrances has something very attractive in 
it, and as it helps one to think earnestly and connectedly, 
so it assists the work of the following day. I much prefer 
sitting thus alone, to engaging in conversation. I often, 
moreover, read aloud in the early part of the evening. 

This has been a remarkably beautiful day, a mild, 
pleasant air, no wind, and a clear blue sky. But it is very 
autumnal here : the foliage is already yellow, and when you 
see an avenue, you remark that the trees are not so full of 



68 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

leaf as in summer. It is incredible how rapidly the time 
passes. A week a month, are gone, and, almost before 
you can look about you, a whole year ! It appears scarcely 
worth the trouble of repeating so trite and well-known a 
saying, but I have never before experienced the feeling so 
strongly. It may be that I measure time more according 
to the work done, the employment of it, and time appears 
valuable only in proportion as something is accomplished, 
though that something may fall far short of what we expect. 
No day produces so much as it might, and from this loss of 
single days, what a grave deficiency in the whole ! I wel- 
come the winter, because even in my position, quiet and 
full of leisure as it always is, I can work with more energy 
at this season. 

I was surprised to find by your letter that you were so 
far advanced in the knowledge of astronomy as to find great 
enjoyment in it. It is a delightful study, and peculiarly 
suitable, I may say, to your solitary and quiet life. You 
are quite right when you say that the contemplation of the 
sky at night fills the weary heart with consolation, and 
elevates the soul from earth, which, in the stillness of the 
hour, one forgets for a while, with its endless griefs and 
manifold sorrows. I am very glad that the sight of the 
stars has such an effect upon you, and particularly that vou 
have been led to the study by my recommendation ; but I 
am .very sorry that your feelings still retain so gloomy a 
complexion. 

You mention the hypothesis of Kant respecting our fu- 
ture residence upon Jupiter. I believe we have before 
spoken of this subject in our letters. I am sorry, as you 
are attached to the bold idea, as you call it, to be obliged 
to say that I cannot sympathise with you in this respect, 
I cannot understand how Kant can entertain it. But I will 
return to it, as it appears a favourite notion of yours. 

You wish further in your letter, that, according to my 
often-repeated advice that you should enter upon some ab- 



LETTER XVIII. 69 

stract and interesting mental occupation, I would tell you 
what you might undertake. You fear that the study would 
either take too much time, or require a minute apparatus. 
This is certainly a difficult question; for the choice must 
depend upon your own taste, and of this you are the only 
judge. But I will endeavour to fulfil your request. I follow, 
however, a hint which your letter gives me. You speak of 
the earth, and certainly the study of this must follow that 
of the sky. What do you particularly wish to understand 
respecting the earth 1 ? I think that the earth and its in- 
habitants are so closely connected, that any work which can 
interest you must keep this connexion in view, and not 
treat either subject separately. I know only one book that 
fulfils these conditions ; that is Bitter's " Description of the 
Earth." It is one of the most spirited, ingenious books 
that has appeared for a long time. Hitter treats of the 
description of the earth, or Geography, in quite a new way, 
divides the globe into its natural divisions of mountains, 
valleys, and streams, and above all, describes the general 
condition of the human race without entering into the 
slightest political discussion. On this account it will be 
particularly suitable to your purpose. It will also please 
you from its not being a book to be hastily perused, but to 
be thoroughly read and studied. You are quite right not 
to like reading merely for reading's sake. You must first 
have a clear idea of what you wish to learn. This Ritter 
will effect for you respecting the earth, if you begin the 
study properly. You ought not, in my opinion, to spend 
more than an hour a-day in reading this book; this, with 
few exceptions, you will be able to do. Then you must in 
thought reperuse what you have read, and so make it com- 
pletely your own. This will bring your work and your 
thoughts into intimate union. If you are particularly in- 
terested in any point, you may read other works on the 
same subject. One defect of the book is the want of maps. 
The descriptions of the ranges of mountains and the course 



70 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

of streams are, however, so graphic, that if at any time one 
has been accustomed to the use of a map, the imagination 
supplies all deficiencies. I should certainly think that this 
book would afford you for some time an agreeable and use- 
ful employment. Hitter has as yet treated only of Asia 
and Africa ; and I would advise you, after the introduction, 
to take Asia first, although Africa takes precedence in the 
work. Asia, if we go back into past ages, was the most 
important division of the known world. There flourished 
religion, philosophy, and poetry, at a time when we do not 
know with certainty how Europe was inhabited. All the 
civilization and learning also, which we now enjoy, are as- 
sociated with Asia, and may be referred to that source. 

You mention the late disturbances. Since you wrote 
they have increased, and are prevalent even in our own 
neighbourhood. It is painful to see how passion and reck- 
lessness threaten the peace we have so long enjoyed. But 
in time all will subside again into tranquillity. The things 
of the world are ever rising and falling, and in perpetual 
change, and this change must be according to the will of 
God, as he has bestowed upon man neither the wisdom nor 
the power to enable him to check it. The great lesson in 
these things is, that man must strengthen himself doubly 
at such times to fulfil his duty and to do what is right, 
and must seek his happiness and inward peace from objects 
which cannot be taken away from him. 

Farewell. Keep yourself calm, and be assured of my 
sincere and unchangeable sympathy. H. 



LETTER XIX. 71 



LETTER XIX. 

TEOKL, October 6, 1830. 

I have received your letter of the 28th, dear Charlotte, 
and I thank you very much for it. We have had remark- 
ably beautiful weather for eight or ten days, and I have 
enjoyed it very much, and have generally been out in the 
afternoon. I continue so well and strong, that if I wished to 
dwell upon some weak point, I should hardly know what to 
complain of. I tell you this first, because you have repeat- 
edly said that you always look first for the part of my letter 
which mentions my health. It is perhaps wrong to value 
it so much, and as it were to challenge fate and summon 
happiness. In a great measure this idea is superstition, but 
not entirely so. When pride and self-exultation are united 
either to a firm inward confidence, or to a great and fear- 
ful love of change, they are easily overthrown. This is 
called the chastisement of God, or it is believed to be the 
invariable law of nature that all boasting must be humbled. 
This fact is never denied. Experience teaches it; it forms 
a part of the belief of all ages, and many nations have pre- 
served the saying in familiar proverbs, illustrated it in 
narratives, and handed it down to posterity. I cannot with 
justice apply it to myself, however. I speak to you of 
my health and my well-being, because I know that it gives 
you pleasure, and is a satisfaction and a consolation to you, 
and because the very expression of the natural emotions of 
a heart grateful to Providence is itself an offering of thanks. 
I cherish no presumption. I have the firm conviction, and 
now the more strongly that the external world has less 
hold upon me, that change is a necessary condition of all 
the circumstances that render the life of a man peaceful, 



72 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

free from care, rich in enjoyment, and even enviable; and 
certainly I should be far from considering health in old 
age as any exception to the rule. But I have not the 
slightest anxiety about it. I enjoy every blessing with 
thankfulness, but I cling to nothing. I do not live in 
hope, and as I expect nothing from the future, I cannot 
be disappointed. I must honestly confess, whether it be 
wrong or not, that I cherish no hope on this side the 
grave. I believe in a future ; I consider a meeting again 
possible, when equally strong mutual feelings render two 
beings as it were one. But my mind is scarcely made up 
on this point. Human ideas and representations are of no 
avail, and any others are here impossible. I look on death 
with perfect composure, but with no ardent desire or ecstasy. 
In the present life I seek more for activity than enjoyment. 
But that expression is hardly correct, for enjoyment depends 
upon activity: the two are united. There is also a bliss 
which flows like a free pure gift from Heaven. This cannot 
be won by direct effort, and it is deplorable to see the rest- 
less craving for it. But the greatest enjoyment, the great 
happiness that cannot be torn away by any power, lies in 
the past, and in the consideration that though happiness is 
certainly a great, an inestimable good, in the enrichment of 
the soul through joy and sorrow, and the elevation of all 
noble feelings, consists the true and final aim of man, for 
all on earth is changing and transient in its nature. In 
this view, the retrospect of life does not sink into a gloomy 
brooding over its vanished joys or its experienced evils, but 
is absorbed in the activity which employs the mind in the 
present hour. So it is with me, and the emotions in which 
my life principally consists are now all removed to the past, 
accompanied certainly by a degree of melancholy, but so 
sweet and calm, a happiness so independent of men and of 
destiny, that nothing can tear it away, or even weaken it. 

I am very glad to find that you enter into my idea of 
pursuing some abstract intellectual occupation. It interests 



LETTER XIX. 73 

me very much. What I proposed to you, I consider very 
proper and suitable; but perhaps it is too uniform, and 
too much an exercise of the understanding merely. After 
further consideration something else has occurred to me, 
which will at least show you that I wish to be of use to 
you. I should think Frederic Leopold Stolberg's " History 
of the Christian Eeligion" would be a suitable book to be 
not merely read but studied by you. Tell me whether you 
know anything of it. If you have never seen it, buy a 
volume, read a part of it, and write to me about it. If 
you should like it, you might continue the study of it. If 
that should be the case, it is a book that one ought to 
possess rather than borrow, because it may be read and 
returned to in different moods. I should like to send it to 
you, and ask you to receive it as a remembrance from me. 
If you do not know the book and wish to read some as a 
specimen, I recommend the fifth volume. This contains 
the life of Christ himself, and will also give you the best 
idea of whether you agree with Stolberg's views. He had, 
as you know, gone over to the Catholic religion. But as 
far as I can judge, this has had no influence upon his 
writings. I myself have only read a small part of them, 
but I know some, and particularly women, whose judgment 
I value as much as my own, who have not been in the least 
disturbed or unsettled in their opinions by reading this 
work. As an exclusively religious book, the Bible of course 
holds the first place, and none other is required. But I do 
not look upon Stolberg's work in the light of a merely 
religious book. It is a sort of Church History, not written 
for the scholar, or for the curious inquirer into dogmas, but 
with a moral and edifying purpose. It shows also how the 
Christian religion has improved the heads and still more 
the hearts of men. It is certainly the great characteristic 
of the human race, that religion is implanted in the very 
nature of man. The religion of Christ came into the world 
by especial ordination. It has not taken away the freedom 

VOL. II. H 



74 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

of the human soul, but has rather brought a higher degree 
of it, for certainly religious feelings have no value but as 
they arise spontaneously in the heart. Religion is some- 
times received and sometimes rejected, until at last its 
power is established. But even when received into the 
hearts of men, it assumes different aspects according to the 
peculiarities of the spirit and character of those who ac- 
knowledge it. Even among the Apostles, this was evident 
from the first. How different the manifestations of the 
religious sentiment in John and in Peter ! Afterwards also, 
remarkable dissensions arose; passions and worldly views 
were blended with the purer emotions, and thence arose 
profanation and abuse. But one always sees in these re- 
ligious histories the divine element beside the earthly, 
still the One Eternal and Everlasting, like a sun shedding 
light and warmth, though more or less hidden by the veil 
of the earthly. When I was very young, I read Church 
History with great eagerness, and few studies ever interested 
me more. 

Farewell. With constant and unalterable sympathy, 
yours, H. 



LETTER XX. 75 



LETTER XX. 

TEQEL, Nov. 6, 1830. 

I received your letter of the 26th a few days since, 
dear Charlotte, and I thank you sincerely for it. It is 
written in so tranquil a spirit that it has given me double 
pleasure, for I am convinced that this spirit is the most 
conducive to your happiness. 

The beautiful season of autumn is fitted to give the mind 
and heart as much serenity and cheerfulness as each indi- 
vidual, from his mental constitution, is capable of attaining. 
I think I never remember so invariably fine an October and 
early part of November. In previous years we have often 
had snow by this time, which then lay the whole winter. 
Now the air is mild as in summer, and only now and then 
a rainy day occurs to interrupt the cloudless blue of the 
clear sky. Yesterday the stars shone brightly as I returned 
from a walk, and to-day it was fine long after the sun set. 
The- monthly roses are in their richest and most luxuriant 
bloom. There is certainly something remarkable in this 
weather, as if Heaven wished to make amends to earth for 
the last long winter. But though I enjoy this fine weather 
so much, autumn is not my favourite season. The dropping 
of the leaves has something so sad, and gives to nature 
which at first is all richness and luxuriance a character of 
poverty. The trees in autumn have to me something more 
repulsive than in winter ; for then the destruction is com- 
plete, but in autumn it is continually going on before our 
eyes. The poor trees appear so tossed about and ill-used 
by the wind, that you pity them as if they were human 
beings. In the early autumn, many people admire the va- 
ried tints which the foliage assumes. I have often heard 



76 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

this said, but I could never find pleasure in it, and would 
willingly give up all this pomp of colouring in nature. How 
much more beautiful is the uniform green of summer! It 
would be a mistake to call it monotonous. It has so many 
shades, from the bright and delicate to the darkest, that the 
variety and the shading afford a pleasing change for the 
eye to rest upon ; and the shades of colouring being faint, 
are not so glaring as those of autumn. 

My health continues good. It would require some serious 
illness to change the simplicity and uniformity of my mode 
of life, and this very simplicity is the most likely means to 
ward off illness. Health is a blessing that I prize particu- 
larly on account of the uninterrupted activity it allows. 
But I could hardly say that I dread an illness, or look upon 
it as a great evil. I was often ill before my thirty -fifth 
year, but since that time more rarely. Twice I have been 
very near death, but I cannot say that sickness has ever 
appeared to me very painful or distressing. With me 
perhaps it may not be so with others the body only is 
weakened in illness, and not the spirit : the extinction of 
the physical strength, and the interruption of the usual 
activity, seem rather to render the mental powers more 
acute. A man originates nothing, but he muses, forms 
plans, and prepares himself for greater usefulness upon his 
recovery. The only real annoyance to me in illness has 
been, even from childhood, the great compassion for the in- 
valid, the care, the uneasiness, even the pity and sympathy. 
These are quite natural, praiseworthy, and deserving of 
gratitude, but to me so burdensome that they make illness 
really an evil. On this account I was very glad that, on 
both the occasions when I was dangerously ill, I happened 
accidentally to be quite alone, without even any of my own 
family. 

The assurances you give me that you are not anxious and 
unhappy, afford me great pleasure, and I quite believe 
them. I do not attribute to you a disposition in which 



LETTER XX. 77 

anxiety and disquiet are blameable. It is natural and 
touching that you should be easily excited and affected. I 
can understand, too, the feeling of weariness of life, though 
I have never myself experienced it. Even without being 
unhappy, life may be imbued with a feeling of weakness, 
I might almost say it must be so when it ceases to be 
viewed by man as a progressive state, and is considered 
rather as an eternal round. In this view the sameness of 
life must necessarily weary, and its insignificance, when 
compared to the higher spiritual existence, be deeply felt ; 
but this feeling disappears when man looks upon it as a 
step to higher progress. 

In what you say of Stolberg's work I certainly cannot 
entirely disagree. Fifteen volumes are a great many, and 
perhaps it would not be well for you to study religious sub- 
jects so much. But see how the fifth volume pleases you, 
and then send me word whether you wish to have the 
whole work. 

To return to the choice of an employment calculated to 
promote your cheerfulness. I know not, dear Charlotte, 
whether the mental occupation I advised for you requires 
so much preparation as you tell me was the case with R. 
At least this was not in my thoughts when I first wrote to 
you : such laboured study would certainly deprive you of 
the necessary freedom. There appears to me another and 
more simple method. Wherefore should a man know and 
learn? It is much better and more beneficial to read and 
think. Beading provides material for thought, because we 
must have an object a thread, as it were, on which to string 
the thoughts. But for this one requires a book only occa- 
sionally, just to take in the hand; it may be laid down or 
exchanged for another. When a person has done this for 
some weeks, he must be deficient in all mental activity and 
energy, if many ideas do not occur to him which he will 
have pleasure in prosecuting, subjects on which he desires 
to know more; thence originates a self-chosen study, not 

H2 



78 

one adopted by the advice of another. This plan I should 
think would be acceptable to all women who lead an active 
intellectual life. As we have now discussed the matter, and 
taken every view of it, you have only to choose which plan 
you will follow. The mere consideration of an employment 
is itself an occupation, and the preparation is a part of the 
usefulness of the work. I shall willingly assist you as much 
as I can. 

I must ask you to send your next letter on the 23d. I 
sincerely wish that you may remain well, at least that no- 
thing external may disturb your repose. 

Maintain your mental tranquillity, and be assured of my 
unalterable sympathy and friendship. Yours, H. 



LETTER XXI. 79 



LETTER XXI. 

TEGEL, Dec. 4, 1830. 

Your letter, begun on the 6th and finished on the 17th 
of last month, dear Charlotte, has given me very great plea- 
sure. It expresses so clearly your inmost feelings, it is 
written in so much more peaceful a tone, referring both to 
external events and earnest contemplations, and its contents 
have interested me so much, that I thank you doubly for 
this letter, though I welcome every one as a mark of your 
attachment to me. I am also glad that you did not wait 
for the day I fixed for your writing, but have followed your 
own inclination : this is the best plan with respect to letter - 
writing, which will bear no restraint, but must always have 
full freedom. It has also given me pleasure to know sooner 
that you are engaged in an interesting employment, and to 
hear your opinion respecting my proposal. I do not care 
about this fixing of days, and merely continue the practice 
because you tell me you like it. You remember how the 
habit originated. I will continue to fix the day, but I repeat 
my request that you will deviate from it whenever you have 
any inducement to do so; I mean, that you will write 
sooner without minding what I have said, but never do it 
later. It would cause too long an interval between your 
letters. 

We have had a remarkable year : do you not think sol 
The weather is still very pleasant for the season. I enjoy 
it very much, and I am particularly glad that the first fall 
of snow has been so long delayed. For a short time it is 
very agreeable to see a sparkling, white, pure, unruffled 
mantle of snow j but after a while this uniform vesture of 
nature becomes wearisome. The present winter is, at least 



80 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

here, not at all damp, and therefore not injurious to the 
health. At any rate, mine continues very good; I suffer 
in no way. I live with my usual regularity, take daily ex- 
ercise, and feel the advantage of this simple mode of life. 
I have nothing particular to complain of with respect to my 
eyes. Although I am very careful of them, I think I can 
perceive the weakness gradually increasing. But it would 
be foolish to dwell much upon this : it is enough that the 
progress is very slow. It is the same with the unsteadiness 
of my hand in writing. You will be the best judge of the 
increase of this, but it also is very gradual. In the mean- 
time I write very little myself, and shall still further limit 
the quantity. I devote the evening hours to dictation, as 
that saves my eyes. So now you know all particulars about 
me. 

I thank you very much for the full communication of 
your opinion upon Stolberg's Religious History ; I was 
very much interested in it. I know little of the book 
myself; but I had heard very favourable opinions, especially 
from women, and that determined me to call your attention 
to it. Besides, I have myself always had a great predilec- 
tion for histories of the church and of opinion. You judge 
Stolberg's secession to the Catholic church with more harsh- 
ness than I should do. Such things arise in every head and 
heart, and it is scarcely possible for another to understand 
the threads on which they hang. Stolberg was not a man 
of great independence of character, and possessed neither 
a large nor a long head. In his poems also he shows no 
depth or originality. They affect us like the memories of 
youth, and have a lively vivacity, great strength of feeling, 
and something very correct in the sentiment. Poetical they 
must ever be thought. 

After the trial you have had of Stolberg's book, we will 
lay it aside, and you can occupy yourself with something 
else. I am exceedingly glad that you are pleased with 
Hitter, and that you agree with his views. The work is at 



LETTER XXI. 81 

present in two volumes, containing the description of Asia 
and Africa only; and the author, instead of continuing it, 
has published a second edition, of which only the first vo- 
lume has as yet appeared. You have given me very great 
gratification, dear Charlotte, by your frankness in saying 
that instead of Stolberg you should prefer receiving Hitter 
from me. I have given an order to my bookseller to send 
you the work. I have always thought that a book is a 
peculiarly suitable present to a friend. It is read again and 
again, sought only in chosen moments, not used like a cup 
or a glass or a piece of furniture, at any moment indiffer- 
ently, and the friend is remembered in the hour of purest 
enjoyment. The book may afford you more pleasure as being 
my gift. 

I can suggest no work that treats exclusively of Pales- 
tine. It is your wish to learn the state and history of that 
country immediately after the time of Christ. The descrip- 
tions of recent travellers, Chateaubriand and others, will 
do you little or no good. I myself know little of the 
country. Besides the Bible, the only authorities for its 
ancient history are the profane writers of Greece and Rome, 
and the information is so scattered through their works, 
that you could not easily find it. Josephus alone treats of 
the Jewish history exclusively. I really do not know whether 
there is a German or French translation of his work, but I 
think it probable. You will receive this information at any 
library. With respect to other authors I can only give you 
this advice: You must read the account of the Jews in some 
very full General History. The best of these would be a 
General History translated from the English, or Rollin's 
Ancient History. Rollin has been a favourite author of 
mine since I was quite a young man. He is a very credulous 
writer, who is too apt to receive statements without due 
examination ; but there is something interesting about him, 
and his narratives are very naive and simple. In Rollin 
you find all that has been written upon Antiquities so far 



82 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

as in accordance with the Bible. If you wish for more? 
there is a book of old Michaelis of Gottingen, who died 
long since, whi?h throws light upon some points of Jewish 
Antiquities; it is entitled " The Mosaic Rituals." In this 
way, continuing the study of these books along with Hitter, 
you will acquire a tolerable idea of Palestine and its inha- 
bitants in the olden times. 

I much approve of your desire to have a clear and in- 
timate knowledge of this part of the world. The interest 
of other countries must soon be exhausted, but this has one 
of a higher, nobler, more permanent nature. The inquiries 
respecting all that is connected with Palestine are so inti- 
mately blended with the study of the Bible, that it must 
make you familiar with the contents of the Holy Scriptures, 
and thence you must imbibe some of its spirit. You have, 
as I know, studied the Bible much ; you must also be aware 
of the necessity of being able to associate each occurrence 
with its own locality, and of having a correct idea of these 
localities, and also of the sequence of events. I believe 
that the wish to know more of these countries originated 
entirely with yourself. This was what I desired, to see 
you engage in some employment at your own suggestion. 
The mind can be really interested only in what is freely 
chosen. 

I see Hitter frequently, as we are both members of the 
Academy of Science. He is a remarkably amiable man in 
his manners and disposition. He is very religious, and pos- 
sesses a gentleness and mildness which are very attractive. 
He is generally beloved in the town. 

I shall be glad if you will write to me on the 21st of 
December. Preserve your health, dear Charlotte, maintain 
your composure and cheerfulness, and believe me, with 
constant sympathy, yours, H. 



LETTER XXII. 83 



LETTER XXII. 

TEGEL, Jan. 4, 1831. 

I write so few letters now, that it occurs to me in 
scribbling the date (for I can really call my writing only 
that name), that it is for the first time this year. Keceive, 
my dear Charlotte, my heartfelt good wishes. May no ex- 
ternal adversity lie before you, and may you have the neces- 
sary strength to maintain your peace of mind if it should 
be assailed, as may be the case with any human being ! 

From the manner in which people, especially those of the 
higher ranks, spend their lives, the changes of the year 
have now lost their true significance. In fact, a new year 
begins with each new day : the seasons make the only real 
division. But even these have scarcely more influence over 
us, than as they affect our ease and comfort. To me, how- 
ever, the close of a year is always an epoch which makes 
me examine myself. I compare what I have done, with 
what I might have done. I take counsel with my feelings, 
approve or blame, confirm myself in old resolutions, form 
new ones, and so generally spend the first day of the year 
in leisure. I smile at myself for thus wasting my good re- 
solutions in idleness, but it is not so much idleness as 
repose, and that is often more wholesome than labour. At 
the periodical return of these contemplations, it is pleasant 
to think that a year more of life is closed. This does 
not arise from any longing for death. I have no feeling of 
this sort, because life and death, inseparably connected, are 
but developments of the same being, and it would be child- 
ish and thoughtless to desire to disturb and change, by a 
narrow wish, what has, physically and morally, its point of 
maturity. Still less is it satiety of life. I have had the 



84 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

same feeling in the happiest times, and now that I am no 
longer susceptible of external impressions of enjoyment, or 
at least seek none, but live calmly in myself and my re- 
membrances, I have still less reason to be dissatisfied with 
life. But the lapse of time has something pleasing to me. 
Time does not pass away void; it brings and takes and 
leaves behind, and man may continually be richer for it, 
not indeed always in enjoyment, but in something higher; 
I do not mean barren experience, no, it is an elevation 
of man's consciousness into greater clearness and fulness : 
it is that he is more truly himself, and understands more 
clearly what he is and what he ought to be. This, as the 
centre-point of man's present and future being, is the highest 
and the most important for him. 

This, dear Charlotte, will make you understand better 
what I mean when I say that I prefer old age to youth. My 
own wish would be, that I should be old while all around 
me remained young. Others would be pleased with this 
too, and make no objection to this kind of selfishness. But 
to speak seriously, at least what others would call seriously, 
for I am myself in earnest, I am far from falling into the 
error of not admitting that youth in a certain sense is more 
beautiful and delightful, and that it has in itself something 
higher than old age. Youth is really of more importance, 
since little of the individual is at that period developed, 
the whole working as a whole, and the life having as yet 
brought out few of the characteristic tendencies. There is 
also a great difference in the two sexes. The appearance, 
and even the reality of old age, is more natural to man. In 
him we value more the qualities which really belong to old 
age, and do not require from him the freshness and charms 
of youth. He may always remain the same, even if he 
loses corporeal strength. This is not quite the case with 
women; and the power of self-control, and the elevation of 
spontaneous self-denial, through which the old age of a 
woman can retain so much of youthful vigour, can only be 



LETTER XXII. 85 

attained by few. But in woman also, old age brings much 
to light that was vainly sought in youth; and this every 
man of sense and feeling will treasure in preference. 

I am very glad to find you are interested about Palestine. 
It is certainly better for you not to be engaged constantly 
upon the same subject; but when you have left it, it is 
by no means desirable that you should quite give yourself 
up to self-contemplation; you should rather seek in exter- 
nal circumstances something which may interest you, and 
then you will be indirectly led back to yourself. 

I fully agree with you in what you say respecting the 
difference between ancient and modern history. You find 
yourself upon quite different ground in the former. It is 
true, man was the same in time past as he is now; but the 
circumstances were more natural and simple, and, which is 
the main point, were conceived in a fresher spirit, and better 
apprehended and treated. The narrative also was more 
eloquent, and above all poetical. Poetry was then rather 
nature than art; it was not as yet distinct from prose. 
This poetical fire, this brilliancy of imagery, extended over 
all antiquity, which indeed we view only in this mirror. 
For we must acknowledge that we see many things in a 
brighter light than reality. I will not say that the manner 
in which these things were related was erroneous. Not 
so: But the colouring is different. We see men and their 
actions in other colours. A multitude of lesser details is 
wanting also; we do not see all often only the most con- 
spicuous traits, collected with great industry. Everything 
therefore appears stately and colossal. 

I suppose that in this pleasant sunny weather you go 
every day into your garden. I let no day pass without a 
walk. But the sun sometimes escapes me, as I have no 
special reference to it in my walks. I always go out, sum- 
mer and winter, in the afternoon, and at this season the 
sun sinks in mist at noon. 

My health for I see I have not yet mentioned it is 

VOL. II. I 



86 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

very good. I have not had any colds this winter; I can 
only complain of the infirmities of old age ; but these are 
natural, and I bear them without wondering at them, 

Will you send your next letter, dear Charlotte, on the 
25th? Fare you well, and rest assured of my unchangeable 
sympathy. H. 



LETTER XXIII. 87 



LETTER XXIII. 

TBGEL, Feb. 5, 1831. 

I have received the letter which you began at Christmas 
and finished on the 25th of January, dear Charlotte, and I 
thank you very much for the great pleasure I have derived 
from the much more cheerful tone in which it is written. 
Your expression, that for years you have not felt so cheerful 
at Christmas as now, has been a great comfort to me. I 
always believed that you would attain that state of inward 
tranquillity and balance of mind in which desire and pos- 
session appear one without any sacrifice, in which, whilst 
the present is yours to enjoy, you are not bereft of all hap- 
piness, and in which, for many things you must regret, you 
purchase for yourself an internal compensation independent 
of circumstances. You might attain this and be sufficiently 
happy, if you could maintain this disposition. If I have 
contributed to this, or am now in a position to do so, it 
demands no thanks; but I am willing to receive yours, 
because I know that they are the genuine sentiments of 
your heart. You may be perfectly assured that as long as 
I live, my interest in your welfare will continue the same. 
It can undergo no change : it rests upon the kindly feelings 
with which you have yourself inspired me : it seeks nothing, 
and has no other end in view but to do you good. 

I can understand, dear Charlotte, how holidays are really 
such to you, and not so in name merely. They relieve you 
from external work, which, if not unpleasant, is at least 
fatiguing and wearisome from its dull uniformity, and they 
bring perfect leisure in which you may follow your chosen 
employments. To gain this freedom of spirit is in all situa- 
tions a great happiness, to which, however, a man engaged 



88 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

in higher and more important avocations, as I know by 
experience, never can attain. For him there is no appointed 
holiday, and he can rarely give himself one. 

I do not know how it is, but I do not remember the time 
ever seeming to pass so quickly. Months appear like weeks, 
and since the beginning of November the cold season has 
passed with lightning speed. Every day has its own occu- 
pations, and that makes one less aware of the flight of time, 
and consequently it appears to pass more rapidly. But as 
this was still more my case in former times, there must be 
some other reason. In no case have I been eager for the 
development of events. I have always thought, in respect 
to every remarkable occurrence, that in a few years it will 
belong to history, and from this view will present quite a 
different aspect, and that especially it will lose the changeful 
character which the present always possesses. 

I am very much grieved on your account at the death 
you mention. Even supposing you love solitude, the loss 
of the opportunity of friendly intercourse may be severely 
felt; and with this, in the present case, is associated the 
feeling, that through this loss the closest ties of a whole 
family have been severed. As far as I can gather from your 
account, your friend died before the new year. You had 
been rejoicing on Christmas-day that the year 1830, which 
you dreaded so much, had nearly passed away without your 
having experienced any distress. So I understood what 
you said, and a Greek proverb has occurred to me as being 
very appropriate, of which I have often been reminded by 
unlooked-for occurrences. It is used only to express, that 
in the shortest space of time a change from the most secure 
hopes and the most certainly-calculated expectations may 
occur. The words of the figurative expression run thus : 
" There is many a slip between the cup and the lip." It is 
such a natural, expressive, and significant image it tells so 
shortly and forcibly how something may intervene between 
us and happiness, however near it appears ! But is it really 



LETTER XXIII. 89 

true that you have had gloomy forebodings concerning the 
past year, or did you speak partly in jest ? It seems to me 
very strange to conceive confident and alarming expecta- 
tions concerning a thing so little to be calculated upon and 
judged of as a newly beginning year. Still less can I 
imagine how some persons consider certain numbers to be 
ominous, and bearing portents of evil. Nevertheless I have 
occasionally met with such. I consider it very important to 
keep free from all such ideas, and if in an unguarded mo- 
ment we should yield to them, they ought to be dismissed 
as soon as possible. Providence has certainly not intended 
that the future should be clear before men's eyes: if He 
had designed this, He would not give such dark and mys- 
terious intimations as these, but would remove the veil 
from the spiritual eye of man. Forgive my making these 
remarks; perhaps they are unnecessary. But it is from 
real interest in you that I wish you would spare yourself 
such apprehensions, which only proceed from a dark pre- 
sentiment, that after quiet and cool deliberation is seen to 
have no foundation. You will tell me that those who feel 
strongly and warmly, cannot deliberately calmly and coolly. 
You are right if you mean the susceptibility to excitement 
without any particular cause, out of which, for example, 
arises the morbid anxiety concerning any particular period 
of our life. Such an objectless excitement as this can be 
subdued only by strength of will. The emotions, on the 
contrary, which arise only on rare occasions, and then with 
great depth and strength, are no hindrance to the calmest 
and coolest deliberation, but rather increase the power. I 
have always found that the women who had the strongest 
and most lively feelings in love and friendship were capable 
of the calmest reflection, the greatest thoughtfulness, and 
the firmest self-control. I am myself perhaps now more 
subject to excited feelings, but I should depend upon the 
correctness of my calm deliberation as much as ever. 



i2 



90 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

February 8, 1831. 

I am sorry that I have forgotten to send you a report 
of my health. It is because I seldom think of it ; but you 
must not suppose that I am careless of it. My mode of 
life is so uniform that it must promote health. Some sim- 
ple medicines that I have found beneficial for several years 
I take regularly; but this is all the care I take. The 
necessity of bearing illness certainly gives strength, and I 
trust that I should not be found wanting. But the elasti- 
city of mind arising from tolerable health is an inestimable 
blessing. I cannot say that I am weary of life, or that I 
desire death. All that I can say with truth is, that in my 
present frame of mind, death would bear a very friendly 
aspect, whereas I formerly looked upon it as an unavoidable 
evil. I do not desire anything from life ; but if a very old 
age be appointed for me, I shall never be ungrateful to the 
light and air and the conditions on which thought and feel- 
ing depend. I have become so far independent of mankind 
through the ordination of Providence, that my joys, my 
happiness, my very being, flow only from the past from 
a spiritual presence, and from ideas beyond time and space. 
These I bear within me ; upon these I live, and I desire no- 
thing beyond. If I must provide for my external wants, I 
should certainly not shrink from the work, and should not 
wish to live a shorter time merely because a more rest- 
less and less agreeable life awaited me. He who looks at 
the position of affairs at present (1831) with only half an 
eye, must be aware of the uncertainty of the future. I am 
now able to meet my important expenses; but it may 
be otherwise in a short time. This consideration, however, 
gives me no concern, and if any difficulty were to occur, 
though it might give me more work, would yet create no 
anxiety. My health must be maintained by this peaceful 
view of external circumstances. I therefore allude to it, since 
you take so much interest in me, that you may have no 



LETTER XXIII. 91 

reason to be uneasy about me. I have really nothing to 
complain of in respect to my health. On two points only I 
might be better, and these rather get worse, not from ill- 
ness, but from age. You will perceive, dear Charlotte, that I 
allude to my sight and to the trembling of my hand. In one 
eye I have, as you know, a cataract, which in time may bear 
an operation; but in the other, with which alone I now 
read and write, I suffer only from a weakness that dulls the 
power of vision. In this eye there is neither inflammation 
nor incipient cataract, but merely an organic defect. Though 
I write very little myself, I can observe that the weakness 
increases. It is remarkable that bright daylight does not 
facilitate my power of sight, nor does a moderate artificial 
light make it more difficult. The defect in my hand is 
really rather ludicrous. My writing consists of a constant 
effort to make large letters, and the result is, as you see, 
very small ones. My hand does not ache or tremble, but 
it refuses to obey my will. This arises from the nerves. 
The small but distinct movements required for clear hand- 
writing demand more strength, and exhaust the nerves 
more than rough and heavy work. If I had not been 
aware of the necessity of making each stroke distinctly in 
order to give any degree of clearness to small, short let- 
ters, in a short time my writing would have been quite 
illegible. I do not know whether you find the weakness 
in my hand increase. But I remark it myself, from an 
unmistakeable sign : I find it more difficult to write legibly, 
and it takes more time. The trouble I would willingly 
bestow, but the time is too valuable. I write very little 
now, and if the difficulty increases, I shall give up writing 
altogether, and merely dictate. I have been accustomed to 
dictation, and one has seldom real secrets to write. But 
we give up unwillingly what we have long been accustomed 
to do, and before I entirely leave off writing, I shall lessen 
the quantity still further. This certainly, of all bodily in- 
firmities, is the most to be deprecated by one occupied 



as I am. But such external circumstances do not put 
me out of humour. I have never been either irritable or 
melancholy about it. 

I thank you very much for reminding me of that song of 
Gellert's which you mention as a favourite of yours. At an 
early period of my life I liked the worthy Gellert in spite 
of his entire want of all poetry, of which Nature had not 
bestowed a spark upon him. I have not seen the work for 
fifty years, and I never had it in my possession. I do not 
recollect the passage you quote, but no doubt you remember 
another song, entitled, I think, " Evening Meditations." 
It begins thus, or this passage occurs in it: "A day is 
gone, and how have I wasted this portion of time and con- 
sumed it in vain ! " How often do such words occur to us 
on going to rest ! But we do not really differ about the 
passage which you quote. Gellert has very reasonably 
united the two feelings, and you have not exactly taken 
account of the distinction. You would not certainly expect 
the sanctification without doing anything, I should as 
little presume to effect it without the blessing of God. But 
it lies really in this: We should not merely act, but act 
with confidence, as the issue depends entirely upon our- 
selves. At first sight there appears to be a contradiction 
in striving after an effect as dependent upon ourselves, 
which we know lies in another hand. But the solution 
appears to me to present itself, if we unite the eagerness 
and fervour of the endeavour with the humble conviction of 
our own insufficiency ; and in proportion as this effort and 
this humility are united, the issue is secured. The verses 
of Gellert contain a warning against two deviations from 
the right path : We should not expect the sanctification 
and the peace thence arising as a gift, which, without any 
act of his own, God will pour into the heart of man; and on 
the other hand, we should not consider ourselves as alone 
sufficient to attain it, for by this, what is a heavenly and 
spiritual gift would become an earthly, human, attainable 
one. 



LETTER XXIII. 93 

You say that you lose your cheerfulness without feeling 
discontented. I can easily believe this, but it gives me pain 
to know it. Cheerfulness is the sunny ray of life. It is 
the constant portion of none, and the word itself compre- 
hends a multitude of degrees and modifications. The sum 
of all is this, that man, out of inward and outward cir- 
cumstances, forms himself and the track on which his life 
glides on. This is a benevolent ordination of Providence, 
for no struggle after harmony and elevation is ever with- 
out effect. 

The passage in my letter in which you thought I alluded 
darkly to something disquieting, had really no reference of 
the kind. It was merely the natural expression of the 
frame of mind induced by the changes and vicissitudes I 
have experienced. 

I hope the weakness in your eyes is merely temporary, 
and I am glad to see by your handwriting that it is already 
better. Write to me no oftener than you can do without 
effort. I shall be glad if you can send your next letter on 
the 22d of March. 

With heartfelt sympathy, yours, H. 



94 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XXIV. 

TEGEL, April 6, 1831. 

This time, dear Charlotte, I have received no letter from 
you since my last, and have consequently none before me 
to answer. Your silence cannot have arisen from the state 
of your eyes, for you would then have written a few lines 
only, and if you had been ill, you would certainly have sent 
me word. The most natural conjecture appears to be that 
you fear to write to me during the week of the anniversary 
of my loss, when I am always depressed. I thank you from 
my heart for this delicacy, but your letter would have given 
me equal pleasure as at any other time. We do not honour 
the dead by withdrawing our sympathy from the living, or 
avoiding occasions of being useful to them, and least of all 
would this be a proper tribute to the memory of her whom 
I mourn. But the emotion in you is so natural and deli- 
cate, and expresses so fully your feelings and sentiments, 
that it has touched me very deeply. 

During the whole of March I spent only one day at 
Berlin, and, partly alone and partly with my children, I 
enjoyed here a very enviable state of repose. The weather 
was seldom unfavourable, never such as to prevent my 
going out every day. The spring has now burst forth in all 
her beauty, and I suppose you are enjoying the youthful 
awakening of nature in your garden. I do not know whether 
you have observed what I have remarked in very different 
climates, in Spain and Italy, for instance, that when the 
day has been rainy, the sky is clear again in the evening; 
the rain generally leaving off about half-an-hour before the 
sun sets. This is the usual time when I take my walk. The 
masses of clouds are then more magnificent and more richly 



LETTER XXIV. 95 

tinted, and from my childhood they have always added 
greatly to my enjoyment of nature. If we reflect upon it, 
it is difficult to say wherein the charm % consists. Certainly 
it is not merely the blended colouring, however rich and 
beautiful that may be. The various appearances of the 
heavens affect the soul more deeply and powerfully than 
any charm of earth. The emotion comes from Heaven, and 
rises to Heaven again. Melancholy at all times, and yet in 
the highest degree fascinating, is the gradual fading of the 
colours, the dying of the splendour, which at length, just 
before it gives place to darkness, becomes of a pale green- 
ish hue. My thoughts at such times always dwell upon 
themes of importance. In all reveries of this sort, but 
especially in high and exalted ones, there is a multitude of 
thoughts that never become practical, and are only known 
to him who entertained them, and are for ever locked up in 
his own bosom. Joy and sorrow, happiness and misery, 
however, arise from them oftener than from spoken and 
acted thoughts. Their flowing in and out of the mind, 
the emotions which they excite, very much resemble the 
many-coloured glowing appearances of the heavens. With 
respect to the earnestness of the outer life, they are but 
airy cloud-images, not affecting it. They disappear like 
these, and leave in the soul a blank, which resembles the 
grey of the twilight and the darkness of night. But are 
they therefore gone ? Can that which so exalted the mind, 
and shook it to its inmost foundation, have quite perished? 
Then might man himself be but a passing cloud. You will 
reply, that in this as in every case, that which has once 
been in the mind reacts upon the spirit and character, and 
in this reaction lives. But this is not enough. Out of 
these emotions of the soul, something determinate must 
proceed. These thoughts occupy me chiefly when I look 
at the heavens in the evening before and after a storm. 
But I have a firm conviction, though I may not perhaps 
be able to prove it, that every thought which has ever 



96 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

been in the mind, again shines forth and exerts an influence, 
more or less evident, upon both speech and action. Man has 
only to keep himself worthy of them, to be neither too 
cool and calculating on the one hand, nor, on the other, 
too enthusiastic and theoretical, but above all things to be 
independent, to possess the strength to control self, and 
to prefer the inward progress of thought to all outward 
enjoyment and excitement. 

In looking back at what I have written, I see that I 
must beg your forgiveness, dear Charlotte, for sending you 
such commonplace ideas and reflections. But I live in such, 
together with the thoughts of the past which can never 
return to me. Such ideas are connected also with my 
scientific pursuits; and so you have the whole circle in which 
I live when I can be alone, and out of which I go but as a 
part of myself, when duty or voluntary care for others draws 
me out. This feeling has increased upon me without my 
having intentionally encouraged it. I should not struggle 
against a change of sentiment if it were suddenly to occur. 
If I felt that I again derived pleasure from things which 
gave me enjoyment before this blow that I mingled vo- 
luntarily in the world again that I was capable of other 
pleasures than those which I create for myself out of the 
past, I should freely give myself up to these sensations, 
even if I were obliged to acknowledge that the change was 
not such as to meet my impartial approval. I never think 
whether my present tone of mind will accompany me to the 
end of my days, or whether time, as many assert (in my 
opinion wrongly), will change or blunt my feelings. I am 
opposed not only to all affectation, but also to all preme- 
ditation. Can the feeling which I have had ever since I 
formed the connection, viz. that there is an inward union 
between individuals, the loosening of which deprives the 
survivor of all activity and all inclination to receive happiness 
from any other source, can, I say, this feeling fade away, 
or become extinct? In the dominion of feeling, nothing can 



LETTER XXIV. 97 

exist longer than it has inward strength to live. This emo- 
tion has increased in strength, and I am indebted to it for 
all that I have enjoyed of inward power, of peace and real 
cheerfulness, since that painful separation; and this no 
individual on earth, not even my children, could have given 
to me without the possession of this feeling. I perceive its 
beneficial influence in the greater clearness and decision of 
my mental powers, and if I am now less capable than for- 
merly of entering into active employments, I feel de- 
cidedly that my ideas have become in every respect more 
luminous. 

I fix no day for you to write, as it is always my desire 
and request that you will write as soon as you can. With 
unchangeable sympathy and friendship, yours, H. 



VOL. n. 



98 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XXV. 

TEGEL, May 6, 1831. 

Immediately after I had sent my last letter to you, dear 
Charlotte, I received yours, and found that I had judged 
rightly respecting the reason of your silence. I soon re- 
ceived your second letter also, and I am glad to find from 
both that the weakness in your eyes, though not quite re- 
moved, yet gives you no uneasiness, and is more a nervous 
affection than a real disease. Above all things use your 
eyes as little as possible. Unfortunately the nature of your 
employment allows of no complete rest, and all you can do 
is to spare yourself as much as is at all practicable; re- 
member that my happiness is affected by yours. I always 
feared that this would be the consequence of your excessive 
exertions last winter. I also give you a piece of advice 
derived from my own experience, viz. to limit your read- 
ing and writing as much as possible. 

You mention the recent public events, and say that a 
country residence is not very desirable for me, with the 
prospect of war, and armies marching in our neighbourhood. 
It is true, no one can escape having troops quartered upon 
them, and this is a very oppressive burden. I trust, how- 
ever, that peace will be preserved. Do you also maintain 
this hope, and do not lose courage. The dread you enter- 
tain of the outbreak of the Polish revolution I think quite 
natural, and I agree with you in your warm sympathy for 
that unhappy people. You add modestly, that you are not 
sufficiently informed to express a judgment respecting the 
merits of the case, and that you wish to hear mine. Un- 
speakable misery must be the consequence of the Polish 
revolution, from the tumultuous and warlike spirit of the 



LETTER XXV. 99 

nation. The first outbreak was that of a young and thought- 
less people. Certainly the partition of Poland was an in- 
justice, but the kingdom was itself in so tottering a state 
as to hasten the event. Without this internal weakness, no 
foreign power would ever have entertained a thought of 
the partition. It is only in accordance with your wish that 
I have written a few words respecting the passing events 
of the times, but the subject lies beyond the plan and spirit 
of our correspondence. 

****** 

I have long wished to ask you, dear Charlotte, whether 
you have read Schiller's " Life of Madame von Wolzogen." 
Her merits as a writer cannot be unknown to you. If you 
have not yet read the book, I advise you to do it soon. I 
do not think there is another work so beautifully written, 
so full of thought, and so deeply and delicately conceived. 
A man could riot write in such a manner unless he were 
preeminent in qualities of both head and heart. I know 
nothing resembling it in all the memoirs of women that I 
have met with. There are also some exquisite letters of 
Schiller's in the work. The book will give you great plea- 
sure. Lay aside Ritter's " Description of the Earth " until 
your eyes are quite well : the book is badly printed ; and 
reading that, together with the frequent consulting of the 
maps, does not suit weak eyes. 

" What is Poetry f ' you ask; and you add" I think it 
must be felt." I am quite of your opinion. He who feels 
strongly (and thus only it can be felt) that something is 
poetical, does not require any explanation ; and he who has 
no feeling about it, cannot be assisted by any words of 
description. As far as it is possible, this has been done 
by Schiller, who more than any other possessed the power 
of clothing in words what struggled in his own nature for 
utterance. Examples will explain. Let us take two con- 
temporary poets whom you know well, Gellert and Klop- 
stock. They resemble each other, because they both treated 



100 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

of spiritual subjects, because both were inspired by a noble 
devotion and pure love of virtue, and because they have 
each produced a deep effect upon the minds and hearts of 
their age. But you are no doubt of my opinion that Klop- 
stock soared higher, had more matter for thought in his 
words, and transports you more completely along with him. 
Gellert's verse is prose in rhyme ; Klopstock had a genuine 
poetical nature. 

Will you send your next letter on the 24th? Fare you 
well. With earnest sympathy and friendship, yours, 

H. 



LETTER XXVI. 101 



LETTER XXVI. 

TEGEL, June 3, 1831. 

Your letter, written from the 22d to the 25th of last 
month, arrived so late, that I was beginning to wonder at 
its delay. I could not conjecture the cause of your silence 
this time. Yet I had no fear of illness, dear Charlotte, 
because I relied upon your sending me a few lines if that 
had been the case. So much the more, then, I rejoiced to 
receive so long a letter. When I say this, I only mean that 
I am always glad to read your observations on any subject ; 
and everything that concerns you, be it joyful or the re- 
verse, claims and receives my earnest sympathy. But I 
could only be painfully affected by what you tell me of your 
recent loss, and the state of mind the sad event has induced 
in you. Without knowing the family, the death of this 
young person has something in it peculiarly affecting. It 
is evidently the consequence of the death of her sister, and 
of her having, from her love for the departed one, assumed 
the onerous duties of the household and the care of the 
children. Every circumstance combines to increase one's 
sorrow for the event. You say that so early a death is 
enviable, for it cuts off a pure, fresh, and beautiful flower, 
before the rude north wind has blighted it ; and you allude 
to it again in another part of your letter. I well remember 
experiencing a similar feeling many years since upon the 
death of my eldest son, a boy of ten years of age. He 
died at Rome, where he was buried in a beautiful spot now 
overshadowed by trees. He was a remarkably handsome, 
intelligent, and amiable child, and passed from full health 
and vigour to sudden and fatal illness. I acknowledge the 
truth of the feeling : but life has its value, even if its joys 

K 2 



102 

be few. The powers are strengthened and the mind is ma- 
tured, and there can be no doubt that the degree of inward 
perfection to which a man attains is the fact of the greatest 
importance to him ; and to this even the rudest storms of 
life contribute. All these reflections, however, are consoling 
and comforting only in a certain point of view. The loss of 
the beloved ones remains irreparable, and, as I know and 
feel, no reflections can alleviate the grief; but upon many 
minds the peaceful course of events exercises a soothing 
influence. I can understand that this unexpected loss must 
be much more painful to you from your living so much 
alone. If the sincerity and warmth of my sympathy can 
in any way contribute to the alleviation of your distress, 
you may securely calculate upon it. You know my senti- 
ments towards you; you know they have been full of kindly 
sympathy from the first moment when we resumed our 
acquaintance after a long course of years, although I knew 
nothing of you during the long interval, and our youthful 
acquaintance was of but a few days duration. This devoted 
sympathy will still be yours from the pure desire to be 
useful to you, to exercise an influence over the tone of 
your mind and your life, and you may be certain that in 
every emergency it will be always ready. The more I live 
in myself, the more I shrink from external impressions, 
and the more decidedly I have declined, without any con- 
sideration, all society but that of my children, so much 
the more frank, pure, and unquestioning is my sympathy 
with those who receive it kindly, and to whom I know that 
it gives pleasure. I see and feel the vicissitudes of life 
more in others than in myself. I am peaceful, and though 
frequently melancholy from dwelling on the past, yet some- 
times I am cheerful. My friends and relations, who know 
this, indulge me, and do not disturb my seclusion ; but my 
interest in them and their fate is equally strong. 

I have only good news to send you respecting my health. 
I can complain of no illness, only of the infirmities which 



LETTER XXVI. 103 

you have long known of. You praise the greater firmness 
of my handwriting, dear Charlotte, and rejoice at it. Your 
opinion has the more weight with me, as you were the first 
to notice its weakness and unsteadiness. When you first 
remarked it, its progress had been so slow that I was 
not aware of it, but I soon perceived that your observa- 
tion was correct. I have used some remedies since the 
winter, with a view to relieve the stiffness of the joints and 
the weakness of the hand. It has certainly benefited the 
former, perhaps also the latter, but I think not much. The 
improvement you notice is probably owing to my now wri- 
ting, as children do, on lines, which keep the strokes and 
the hand more even. My physician concludes, from the 
effect of the prescribed means, that the cause of the weak- 
ness is in the spine, and advises the use of strong salt-water 
baths. I shall go therefore this summer to Nordernei in- 
stead of to Gastein. You know that this is an island which 
lies opposite to the town of Aurich in East Friesland. My 
eldest daughter will accompany me, and I shall pay a visit 
to one of my estates at the same time. Do not send your 
next letter here, but to the under-mentioned address. I 
wish you may be able to contrive that it shall reach me 
during the last week of this month. 

You need not be anxious on my account respecting the 
illness prevalent in Berlin, nor regarding the cholera now 
approaching us. I have no tendency to complaints of that 
sort. 

I am much gratified by your wish to have my approval 
before you decide upon your journey to 0. What objec- 
tion could I make to it 1 ? I should be glad if the change 
in your residence confirms your present cheerfulness. But 
I should ask time to consider whether your happiness is 
likely to be increased by a deviation for a length of time 
from your customary arrangements. You live in a pretty 
house, and have a pleasant garden : I have seen both, and 
remember them well. You enjoy all the comfort of perfect 



104 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

freedom, and value the privilege rightly. Even with the 
most valued friend, one must be less free than in solitude. 
But you must, after all, be the best judge of your own 
feelings. Eeason and religion will, I know, guide your 
determination ; the words of another can have power only 
through these. Farewell. With deepest sympathy, yours, 

H. 



LETTER XXVII. 105 



LETTER XXVII. 

ASCHERSLEBEN, July 2, 1831. 

I thank you very much, dear Charlotte, for your letter, 
and also for your punctuality. You have given me great 
pleasure by it, for otherwise I should have been a long time 
without tidings of you, as I remained only a day and a half 
with Councillor M. 

I see from your letter that you have given up your jour- 
ney, and I cannot but approve of the change of plan. So long 
as we are fixed and regular in our household habits, we feel 
a certain monotony about them, which makes us enjoy the 
prospect of a journey; but when the time comes to set out, 
we feel ah 1 the difficulties and discomforts which do not 
appear at home, and first learn to appreciate the value of 
the ordinary existence which daily surrounds us. I should 
have had some difficulty in determining upon my summer 
journey this year, and should hardly indeed have undertaken 
it, had I not believed that, without it, the weakness from 
which I suffer would increase so far as to impede my ac- 
tivity. I feel no interest in the journey. I shall be very 
glad to see some friends again in the towns through which 
I shall pass ; but this does not make up for the discomforts, 
and especially for the loss of time, and to this must be 
added the uncertainty of the times.* 

You write that you are more isolated from the world 
just now by a joyful occurrence, and you tell me of the mar- 
riage and consequent departure of some young friends of 
yours whom you loved like daughters, and whom you have 

* At this period the dreaded cholera appeared throughout Ger- 
many, and, as is well known, alarmed all the inhabitants. 



106 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

every reason to suppose have a probability of happiness from 
what you know of their circumstances before their marriage 
and of their prospects at present. So wonderful are the 
events of life, as they form and dissolve ties between indi- 
viduals of very different ages, as if fate did not care how 
soon friends may be separated by natural events. There is, 
however, something very beneficial in the sympathies which 
arise between the old and young, for no man can say with 
justice that his generation has left him alone ; no man loses 
by death the whole of his friends and acquaintances ; and 
the place of those who are gone will be supplied by others, 
although they may not be equally congenial. So, dear Char- 
lotte, has your circle renewed itself, and it will continue to do 
so. I know not by what singular chain of ideas I have just 

been reminded of St , whom you knew at Gottingen and 

liked so much. Do you know that he lives in London, upon 
the income of an Irish benefice 1 ? The duties of his office, 
as is customary there, are performed by another. I think I 
have also heard that he is married. Have you heard any- 
thing of him lately? 

You speak in your letter of the value of life, and say 
that the diminished powers of old age lessen it. If you 
refer to the capacity for happiness, I willingly concede that 
it cannot be rated very highly. I even admit, that all as 
far advanced in life as myself have little or nothing joyful 
to expect, for in all that concerns human life, the views 
become gloomy, the ideas are confused, and I cannot look 
for any greater clearness during the remaining years I have 
to live. But is it right to estimate the value of life like any 
other possession? Life is the gift of God to man, that he 
may apply it to the performance of his appointed work, and 
in this application may find enjoyment. It is given to us 
for happiness. The tendencies are towards happiness, and 
it is found in the conscientious performance of our duty, 
although each day may bring its trials. I never ask myself 
what value life has yet for me;] I seek to employ it, and 



LETTER XXVII. 107 

leave the rest to Providence. I know from my own experi- 
ence the weakening of the powers in old age ; but I cannot 
retract what I lately wrote to you, that the real aim of 
life is to advance to the highest inward spiritual worth of 
the individual, and this every circumstance, and the dura- 
tion of life itself, may promote. There are cases in which 
old age destroys all the powers of mind. It was so with 
Campe, who merely vegetated during the last five years of 
his life, when his state could hardly be called second child- 
hood, as it possessed none of the interest and promise of 
that period. There is nothing to be said of such cases, 
as the man ceases to be human before he dies physically. 
But they are fortunately rare. The usual infirmities of old 
age are those of the body, and the spirit retains its strength 
of determination, its decision, its perseverance, its memory, 
and its liveliness of interest in external events. The power 
of self-examination is not only unimpaired in most cases, 
but clearer and less disturbed by the mingling of emotions. 
Those powers are the most important which lead to maturity 
of knowledge. In old age, which seeks not for fortunate 
results or change of circumstances, these weigh most justly 
the true value of things and actions, and connect the close 
of the earthly being with the hope of a higher : they purify 
the soul by a calm unbiassed examination of the past events 
of life. No one, however, must believe himself already 
prepared by means of this quiet self -occupation. The more 
perse veringly the work is undertaken, the more new ma- 
terial is developed. I do not mean an unproductive brood- 
ing over one's self, this thought may carry us far back into 
past times and history; nor do I mean to urge the deriving 
material from the earthly sphere, but from the higher, to 
which man especially in his later years belongs. For this 
two-fold sphere is clearly pointed out to man. In the one 
he acts, he is busy, he contributes more or less to the well- 
being of others, but he never sees the end, and he is not the 
object of it : he is only an instrument, only a link in the 



108 

chain; this link often breaks at a decisive moment for 
himself, but the whole runs on. In the other sphere, man 
looks upon the things of this life, not as the ultimate 
object, but as of importance only from the ideas they give 
rise to, and these views raise him from the narrowing in- 
fluences of earth. This sphere is appointed to the indi- 
vidual to each man for himself. The merely earthly nature 
of man is restless. Every man, if he pays attention to 
himself, revolves in both these circles; but the higher and 
more noble is more peculiar to old age, and not without 
reason do the infirmities of advanced life affect a man; for, 
calmed and softened by their influence, he devotes himself 
more to the loftiest contemplations. 

****** 
I must request you to send your letter on the 20th of 
July, and to address it " Nordernei by Aurich." I began 
this letter at the residence of one of my tenants, and close 
it the 6th of July in Zelle. My journey has been without 
adventures, which was to be expected, as it was so short a 
one. With unchangeable sympathy, yours, H. 



LETTER XXVIII. 109 



LETTER XXVIII. 

NORDERNEI, July 26, 1831. 

It occurs to me as something singular, dear Charlotte, 
after having written to you so many summers from the 
mountains of Gastein, to do so now from the low downs 
and flat shores of the Northern Sea. It will interest you 
to have an idea of sea-bathing, and of the neighbourhood 
in which I am. But first you will wish to hear of my health. 
Up to this time I can give you a very favourable account; 
and as I have to-day taken my fourteenth bath, I hope that 
my health will continue good, although it is difficult to 
judge until I have gone through the whole of what has 
been prescribed. But I experience a general feeling of life 
and vigour, a clearness of thought, and a lightness in every 
limb, especially immediately after I have bathed. Other 
and more important benefits I hope to derive, but my ex- 
pectations are very moderate. I shall be quite satisfied if 
the weakness for which my physician recommended sea- 
bathing does not increase next year : I am not so infatuated 
or unreasonable as to look for a perfect cure. In old age 
we must be prepared for some inevitable infirmities. The 
human organization and the transient nature of all the 
things of time forbid any other expectation ; and my infir- 
mities are so bearable compared with those of many others, 
that it would be doubly inexcusable in me to be impatient. 

**#*#* 
The air here, even with the hottest sun, is cooled by the 
fresh sea-breeze, which now gently curls the surface of the 
water, and anon lashes it into high waves. It is the view 
of the sea which gives my residence here its greatest charm. 
I generally go to the beach more than once a-day in addi- 

VOL. II. 



110 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

tion to -my bathing time, and often remain there for hours. 
Uniform as is the motion of the waves, it is for ever fas- 
cinating. One cannot express the charm in words, but the 
emotion is not the less felt. Much depends upon the idea 
of immensity the thought of the connexion of the very sea 
on whose shores you stand, with that which washes the re- 
motest coast. The dark unfathomable depth adds to the 
efiect ; and not merely the depth, but the incomprehensi- 
bleness of this wild, immeasurable mass of air and water, 
the reason and the aim of whose motion and rest are un- 
known to man, and which yet bends to eternal laws, and 
never oversteps its prescribed limits, for even the roughest 
waves of the sea run foaming upon the flat shore in playful 
arch-like streams. 

It is a pity that there is no view of the sea except from 
the garret-windows. The whole island is encircled by barren 
sand-hills, which must be climbed over before the shore is 
reached. At ebb-tide the ground is as firm as a floor, and 
more elastic. At flood-tide there is deep sand between the 
beach and the downs, and where this tract is very broad it 
makes the island like an oasis in an African desert. There 
is a brook of fresh water, partly dug and partly from a 
natural spring, but the water is not particularly good. In 
the centre, shut in by the downs, are some green meadows 
where cattle pasture. There are no lofty trees, the stormy 
winds preventing their growth, but there are copses, which are 
very pretty, and form pleasant walks, sheltered from the sun 
and wind. There is only one village in the island, but that 
is a considerable one. In this the visitors reside, in small 
but very clean houses. The habits of the people are a mix- 
ture of Dutch and English. The pleasant appearance from 
without, and the cheerfulness within, of these fishermen's 
and sailors' houses (for these are the principal inhabitants), 
are greatly owing to the large windows, with strong wooden 
bars, which are much better glazed than is usually the case 
in larger towns. One house belongs to the bathing estab- 



LETTER XXVIII. Ill 

lishment : I live in it, but it is very small, and not much 
superior to the dwellings of the inhabitants of the village. 
There are a good many visitors, although this year the fear 
of the cholera has kept many away from the east and north 
coasts. There is a building for the guests to assemble in, 
with saloons for cards and conversation. I take my meals 
in my own apartment; but I have been into all the public 
rooms. There are a few persons here with whom I associate 
occasionally. What makes the residence here and at other 
places at the coast more agreeable than at the spas in the 
interior, is the circumstance that there are not so many 
here who come on account of serious illness, and we do 
not see so many cripples. Sea-bathing is not suitable for 
such complaints, as a certain degree of strength is necessary 
in those who employ it. I see only one man here who walks 
on crutches, and he is taken to the beach in a sedan chair, 
as the distance from the village is considerable. I think, 
from this detailed description, you will be able to form a 
pretty correct idea of my present residence. 

I have received no letter from you yet, but I expect it 
to-morrow, which is the day for the arrival of the mail. 
In the mean time I must send this away, as the letters are 
occasionally delayed a long time. 

With heartfelt sympathy, yours, H. 



112 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XXIX. 

TEGEL, Jan. 1, 1832. 

I have at length received tidings of you, dear Charlotte, 
from your letter of December 16th. As I expected it 
sooner, I was surprised at the delay, but I was not uneasy, 
as I supposed it was caused by some accidental hindrance. 
I certainly never imagined you would have attached such 
a meaning to my words. It is really quite an unfounded 
timidity that makes you wish me always to fix the day for 
you to write. Your letters are always welcome. 

I continue very well, and have even less weakness to 
complain of than usual. The sea-bathing has done me much 
good; but my handwriting is slow and bad, and the dull- 
ness of my sight increases. 

You rejoice that I look more cheerfully upon life again, 
and as you take such an affectionate interest in me, you will 
also rejoice in my greater strength. As to my more cheerful 
view of life, it is a peculiar thing : it is true, and yet not 
true. I have never turned away from life : to do this would 
be against my principles; for as long as a man lives, he 
ought to seek to preserve his life, not to estrange himself 
from it, but to exert himself in it as far as strength and 
opportunity permit. To live is a duty which man must 
fulfil. He is certainly placed in the world in order to be 
happy; but the well-disposed man finds his highest happi- 
ness in the fulfilment of duty, and the wise man does not 
lament if he is not in a situation to obtain any other sort 
of enjoyment. But in another sense I have not returned 
to my interest in life. The change which the feeling of 
greater strength has produced in me is, that it has in- 
duced me, since I find that I possess the power, to execute 
my various plans, remembering the uncertainty of the time 



LETTER XXIX. 113 

yet remaining to me. The consequence has also been that I 
am more economical of my time, and since my return from 
Nordernei I have been still more alone, and more occupied 
about myself, and yet more indifferent in reference to my- 
self. I cannot again attain cheerfulness for the present 
moment, because something is wanting for which I have 
received no substitute : but reflections upon the past give 
me real and calm cheerfulness. To estimate life justly in 
its sweet and bitter moments, and to oppose to its outward 
influences our own deepest and most secret feelings, I have 
termed a duty; but it is certain that not to do so would like- 
wise be unreasonable. The being of man certainly extends 
beyond the grave, and is naturally connected together in its 
various periods. It is therefore a duty to seize and employ 
the present, in order the better to prepare for the future. 
The world is a place of trial and improvement, a step to 
higher and better things where man must gain the strength 
which will enable him to grasp the infinite; for the bliss of 
heaven can be no mere gift it must be won, and only a 
thoroughly tried soul can be partaker in it. 

It has grieved me very much to find that the close of the 
year has been saddened to you by recent deaths, and the 
more so since you appeared to be regaining your cheerful- 
ness. The course of time rolls on in its ceaseless round, 
regardless of individual interests. I have this year lost 
three friends, one older and two younger than myself; but 
the feeling that these deaths were in the natural order of 
events has not softened or checked my sorrow. The full 
heart asks itself, since so many live on, why the departed 
ones must go? 

What you say of your first preceptress has touched and 
pleased me.* Every well-disposed mind, to say nothing of 

* It was for her I was lamenting. However little interest the 
event might have for him, every word that flowed from his pen was 
consoling. 

L2 



114 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

one of acute and delicate feelings, preserves through life a 
willing sense of gratitude towards one who has guarded its 
childhood. This feeling has been truly and beautifully 
described by the ancients. The care of childhood requires 
patience, love, and self-sacrifice, and to see long years de- 
voted to the work touches the tenderest and most delicate 
chords of the heart. This feeling must exist in all ; the 
difference consists in the fervour of the emotion. The pro- 
portion of gratitude is according to the degree of love put 
into the work. Many who have charge of children do their 
duty ; but if the heart is not there, the child remarks it. 
I am sure this spirit of love was what you valued in your 
deceased friend. May the new year bring you peace and 
joy, guard you from losses in your already narrow circle, 
and pour into your soul the friendly light which, whilst 
looking upon this life but as a path to a higher, will yet 
make the way a pleasant one ! 

Keep me in affectionate remembrance, for my earnest 
and sincere sympathy is ever with you. Do not be uneasy 
about me; I am happy in my present mode of life. As 
long as I can retain my solitude, and my daily quiet walk, 
no circumstance of life can bring me uneasiness, unless it 
disturb my mental repose. Fare you well. Yours, 

H. 



LETTER XXX. 115 



LETTER XXX. 

TEGEL, Feb. 2, 1832. 

The cheerful tone of your kind letter of the 12th of 
January has given me great pleasure, and I thank you, dear 
Charlotte, sincerely and heartily for it. This letter arrived 
some time since, but not the other which you mention. You 
intended to write it a week later; if you had done so, I 
should have received it by this time. 

I always take the greatest interest in your health and 
the state of your mind, and consequently the greater cheer- 
fulness that I perceive in your letter has been a source of 
very great pleasure to me. But I rejoice still more at the 
thought that you owe this greater composure, which you 
yourself acknowledge, to the influence I exercise over you, 
and to the effect of my letters. I shall be glad if they always 
exercise such a power. If it be so and I cannot doubt 
your assurance it must arise from the feeling of confidence 
engendered by the simple nature of my words, which are 
always the language of my heart. This is the case with 
all my exhortation, advice, and consolation. The most suc- 
cessful advice and admonition are given personally, as the 
effect depends very much upon the tone and the accom- 
panying expression. For it all comes to this: the whole 
influence one man has over another communicates itself to 
what he says, and the same words in the mouth of a diffe- 
rent person have not the same effect. You must ascribe 
it also to the affection you cherish for me, that my words 
make an impression upon your mind. But it is a great 
pleasure to me to think that the comfort and encourage- 
ment I offer to you are of a kind suited to your disposi- 
tion. A natural inclination led me early in life to endeavour 



116 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

to go deeply into the character of every individual, in order 
to enter as much as possible into their manner of thinking, 
feeling, and acting: what you say is a new proof that my 
efforts in this respect have not been unsuccessful. But it 
is not enough to know the opinions of men ; we must also 
understand how to determine with perfect impartiality the 
relation of these opinions to their higher natures to their 
individuality, and according to that to direct the aim of 
each. We must thus endeavour not merely to make our- 
selves intelligible to every individual, but to touch the most 
responsive chords in his being. But in this way we never 
give up nor deny our own nature, nor do we consider as 
worthy of applause that only which is unusual and remark- 
able. We always act most efficiently where peculiarities 
are least striking, sharp contrasts smoothed away, and 
only points of agreement remain. It is a most important 
object in life not to be wrapt up in self, but to enter as 
much as possible into the various modes of feeling of those 
around us. In this way only can we judge and estimate 
men according to their views and not according to our own. 
It is by this that we preserve respect even for the apparent 
contradictions in the conduct of others, and never seek to 
offer violence to their mental freedom. There is really no 
employment more congenial both to mind and heart, than 
the thorough study of character in its various shades. It 
signifies little though the characters be not strongly marked 
ones. There is always a nature to fathom, upon which our 
judgment must be founded. But above all, this study of 
character affords us means and opportunities of being more 
useful to those with whom we are in the closest connexion. 
I was very much struck with what you say respecting 
the expressions used by some people concerning death. The 
consideration that it is well with the departed one, is often 
brought forward to conceal the indifference of the survivor ; 
for however strongly this indifference exists, it is never 
openly avowed. But in many cases we cannot but lament 



LETTER XXX. 117 

that the one who has left us has been taken away so sud- 
denly. We think that a young person might have been 
longer spared, that a mother might have been suffered to 
remain with her children, and so in many other cases. But 
there is no too early or too late in respect to the condition 
in the future world : the short span of life here is as nothing 
compared with eternity. The sorrow which fills the heart 
on the death of one whom we have loved and cherished, 
is a feeling intimately connected with many other senti 
ments. The survivor mourns for himself, it is true; but 
his own loss is not his sole thought. If the deceased were 
distinguished for virtue and talent, we lament that the 
world has lost such a man ; everything wears another and 
more gloomy colouring, from the thought that he is gone 
who shed a charm over life. It is not merely the feeling 
that the departed one made us happy that we derived this 
or that joy from him : it is the change our whole being has 
experienced as we now pursue our way alone. For a deeply- 
feeling heart it is a melancholy consideration also that so 
close a tie could be severed without so far loosening the 
chords of life that the survivor quickly followed the one he 
had lost. I believe that this feeling exists in great strength 
in but few, nor are there many cases in which it would be 
consistent. Even in the case of the death of those who 
have been in no way remarkable, but merely good and 
harmless individuals, who appear scarcely to leave a blank 
in their circle when they go, there is excited in a sensitive 
mind a feeling of sorrow not easily forgotten. Life has its 
evident claims, and no emotions are more natural than the 
wish to remain if possible with those whom we love and 
cherish, and the inconsolable grief felt when these ties are 
severed. Great calmness at the death of beloved friends, 
if it does not arise from want of feeling, may be owing to 
Christian resignation j but the unnatural joy that they are 
gone to heaven always shows an overstrained hypocritical 
spirit, with which I never could sympathise. 



118 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

I rejoice at the good news of your improved health. Take 
plenty of exercise* This remarkably mild winter invites 
it particularly; I do not remember one like it. There is 
no snow left here, but it is singular that the lake, which is 
more than a mile in circumference, and in which I possess 
five islands, is still frozen. The nearest town is Spandau, 
which lies on the opposite side of the lake. Every day a 
number of skaters come to amuse themselves, and ladies in 
sledges are pushed along on the ice by the skaters. This 
takes place every year; but nearly each winter some ac- 
cident occurs during the passage across after a thaw which 
leaves some parts not strong enough to bear the weight 
of the sledge. But these warnings do not seem to deter 
others. 

My health is very good ; I have scarcely had a cold this 
winter; but I take a great deal of exercise, and that is a 
very good preventive of colds. 

I have been interrupted whilst writing this letter, and 
finish it to-day, February 6. Farewell. With deep sym- 
pathy and friendship, yours, H. 



LETTER XXXI. 119 



LETTER XXXI. 

TEGEL, 7th March 1832. 

I have two kind letters from you before me to answer, 
and I begin my reply to your last respecting the duel. I 
received the first intelligence of it from you, as I read the 
papers very irregularly, and often do not see one for a 
month or six weeks. This will appear incredible to you, 
but so called great events have been so rare for some years, 
that it has been of little importance to me to hear of them 
early, or even at all. That sad history must have been re- 
lated during some of these times of non-reading. I have 

not been able to learn whether it was the same St. in 

whom you took an interest, and who was once here. One 
may, however, suppose it was, as he did not avoid or guard 
against such adventures; but I will endeavour to obtain 
correct information for you. I knew little of him, but he 
was liked here in spite of many peculiarities, and I now 
hear that this uncertain intelligence excited a great deal of 
sympathy. 

Duelling is a strange thing. Many duels and perhaps 

this may have been the case with those in which St. 

was engaged are merely youthful follies. But the case is 
different with others : they are a necessary evil, and they 
may even be considered as a noble means of healing an 
otherwise incurable dissension. Some people cherish hostile 
and revengeful feelings for years: the duel, which is not 
always dangerous, and often quite bloodless, brings a recon- 
ciliation, and puts an end to all resentment. 

You have not alluded to your astronomical studies for a 
long time, dear Charlotte, but you surely have not neglected 
them. I have never seen the stars more beautiful than 



120 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

they have been this year. The region about Orion is most 
fascinating. Two beautiful evenings I have continued niy 
walk until the stars were quite out, and have enjoyed the 
sight very much. I always take my walks about the time 
of sunset; it is so delightful to see the gradual advance of 
the twilight. Night has in some respects charms superior 
to those of day: a stormy night is more sublime, and a 
calm one induces deeper and more earnest feeling. 

The smaller stars now escape my sight, and one can 
hardly obtain a correct idea of the firmament without them. 
In winter it is certainly better to go out at noon, as it is 
warmer; but I never do so, or only when some visitor asks 
me to walk with him at that time, which I do not like. It 
is, however, an escape from a tiresome visit in the country 
to spend the time in the open air. Tedious common-places 
die away on the air, and one can indulge in absence of mind 
whilst lending only half an ear. 

The reflections which your letter of the 1st February 
contains respecting the past year and its results to yourself, 
have pleased and interested me very much. I should be 
glad if you could recal them to your mind. But if you 
have any reason for not entering further into them, leave 
my questions unanswered: I would extort no confession 
from you that might awaken painful feelings. Every one 
requires an earnest examination of his own heart. We 
must determine to do the work thoroughly, and there is no 
subject that we can at all times review so justly and com- 
pletely, as we have only our own souls to look into. We 
may certainly deceive ourselves, and excuse weaknesses, or 
from another error of vanity exaggerate the sinfulness of our 
faults. Certainly the review has its difficulties from our 
being ourselves the subjects of it; but if with perfect sim- 
plicity of heart and with pure sincerity of purpose we un- 
dertake the examination in order to stand justified before 
ourselves and our consciences, there is no danger to fear. 
Every one must form for himself a lively representation of 



LETTER XXXI. 121 

his own internal feelings : this is to a certain extent the 
point on which all else depends. By this self-examination 
we not only regain strength with respect to duty and mo- 
rality, but review our inward being in its whole extent and 
from all sides. It is certainly too limited an idea to sum- 
mon ourselves, as it were, before a tribunal, and question 
ourselves about guilt and innocence. The perfection of his 
whole being, the possible elevation of every sentiment, the 
greatest enlargement of mental energy, as well as the purity 
of his actions, are the problems that man has to solve. 
There are also in morals things which cannot be brought 
under the consideration of the performance or omission of 
duty, but demand a higher test. There is a moral beauty, 
which, like the corporeal beauty of the countenance, demands 
a blending of thought and feeling, a spontaneous connection 
of itself to a spiritual oneness, which plainly shows that 
from the inmost nature of every individual arises a strug- 
gling effort after a heavenly consummation, and that an 
image of endless greatness, goodness, and beauty, which can 
never be attained, floats before the soul, which, inspired by 
a nobler ambition, becomes worthy of the translation to a 
higher being. The development of intellectual faculties to 
a certain extent belongs also to our general improvement. 
I am quite of your opinion that much knowledge and in- 
formation derived from books are not essential; but it is 
manifestly a, duty, and the proper effort of a man not en- 
tirely devoted to this world with all its confusion and folly, 
to attain to as high a degree of clearness and precision as 
possible in the range of ideas which he possesses, and to be 
satisfied with nothing that has not been thoroughly proved. 
This may be called the true thought of man. All else is but 
the material, which has no absolute value in itself, but only 
in its bearing upon thought. Man must learn to extend 
and improve his range of thought; and knowledge and 
reflection should go hand in hand, otherwise knowledge 
remains dead and unfruitful. In some men this occurs so 

VOL. II. M 



122 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

frequently, that it may be considered the rule; but it strikes 
one less, as their knowledge is generally subservient to some 
use and object, or at least serves as an employment. But 
I have also found it in women, and in them a disproportion 
between acquired information and thought is more dis- 
pleasing. I knew in my earliest youth and since I left the 
University, a woman of this kind, and I have marked her 
course through life. She knows thoroughly the ancient and 
most of the modern languages, is free from all vanity and 
affectation, never neglects a household duty; and yet all 
the knowledge she has acquired has added no interest to 
her character. Though she has read the principal and most 
difficult authors of all nations, yet she never writes a letter 
worth reading. You remark justly in this connection that 
Christ chose his disciples from among the class of rude and 
illiterate men. But this was consistent with the object and 
spirit of the religion he wished to promulgate, and amongst 
the people to whom he came there existed none but dry 
and unprofitable learning : there were only the Scribes, who 
interpreted the Sacred Books in an arrogant and crafty man- 
ner, and treated the people with oppression and scorn. 

Maintain your health and cheerfulness. With unchange- 
able sympathy, yours, H. 



LETTER XXXII. 123 



LETTER XXXII. 

TKGEL, May 5, 1832. 

I have received your long letter, dear Charlotte, and I 
thank you sincerely for it. You will be dissatisfied that I 
have been so long in answering it, as you were suffering 
from anxiety and were in want of some words of consolation 
from me, and had requested a speedy answer. It was indeed 
my firm determination to fulfil your request, but I wished 
to write to you with my own hand, and for such letters I 
depend very much on time and circumstance. From the 
slowness with which I write, I can do very little in an hour, 
and I never begin a letter unless I have a free morning 
before me ; and even in a morning I can hardly finish with 
my own hand one that is worth anything. 

This dependence upon others, particularly for writing, in 
which of all things freedom is desirable and even necessary, 
is one of the most unpleasant and annoying consequences of 
weak health ; for in me it arises rather from infirmity than 
from old age. I am not unreasonable enough to expect much 
amendment from any means I may use; I shall be quite 
contented if the inconvenience does not increase or become 
more burdensome. Most people are discontented through 
their own unreasonable expectations : from their complaints 
at being obliged to resign what they formerly possessed, 
they seem to forget that they have hitherto enjoyed those 
blessings, and are only now deprived of them. 

I was much concerned to hear that you had had such a 
painfully anxious time as you describe, and that you were 
obliged to be an eye-witness of that distressing illness which 
terminated in death.t ****#! can 



t Here follows the history of the suffering and illness of a poor 
child, which were only alluded to as the means of introducing some 
consoling reflections. 



124: w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

sympathise most sincerely in the indisposition arising from 
your over-excited feelings, and I am very glad to find, both 
from the commencement and the close of your letter, that 
you are tolerably recovered. 

****** 

What you say of a gentle and peaceful appearance in the 
dead, even after a severe struggle, is noticed by all. Some 
appear as if already glorified. There are certainly cases of 
a different kind, where the expression of pain or of fearful 
suffering is not obliterated by death. I have seen such on 
the battle-fields of 1813 and 1815; but some amongst the 
fallen even there had repose in every feature. This beauti- 
fying in death (for by that name alone can it be called) is 
the prerogative of man. With the brute creation it is the 
contrary; the most magnificent horse one sees dead on the 
field of battle is ugly and repulsive. 

The reason lies in the impression made by the soul upon 
the countenance. This impression, when the disposition has 
not been soured, is naturally peaceful and calm, and to a 
certain extent noble, even in those of limited mental com- 
pass. In life this peaceful impression is sometimes lost from 
momentary passion, or from the circumstances in which the 
individuals are placed. During the suffering caused by ill- 
ness, this is doubly the case. With death that momentary 
influence on the features yields, the original and natural ex- 
pression returns, and remains as in a picture, as long as the 
corporeal frame exists, without, however, the abiding pre- 
sence of soul. In this of course there reigns perfect tran- 
quillity, as the excitement of life is hushed in eternal repose. 
Perhaps also this appearance has another and more interest- 
ing cause. We see, how can we do otherwise 1 that death 
is a separation a freeing of the soul from the corporeal 
fetters. But we know not certainly where the freed spirit 
goes. Perhaps it changes its earthly nature at the moment 
of its release, and sheds a parting ray on the body it has 
left behind, as we see in the expression still remaining upon 



LETTER XXXII. 125 

the features. Everything in these moments is wonderful 
and incomprehensible ; and when we ourselves arrive at the 
close of life, we shall know no more, even if our faculties 
remain clear to the latest moment, for it is certain that life 
terminates in complete unconsciousness. Nature throws a 
thick veil over her transformations. 

I have just received your letter, begun on the first day of 
Easter, and sent away on the first of May. I am very glad 
to find that you are free from positive illness. Your strength 
will soon return. 

I can easily believe that you miss very much the poor 
little girl who had grown up beside you, and on whom you 
had bestowed so much care. You must try, however, to 
supply her place. I have often experienced the truth, that 
the loss of one connected with us merely in our usual avo- 
cations is not irreparable ; and this is certainly taking a 
charitable view of mankind. We do not lament for one who 
is gone because we have lost something external, but because 
he himself his inner being is no longer associated with 
us. Truth, love, and friendship, cannot indeed be restored 
if once removed by death. 

Do your best to regain your strength and to keep your- 
self cheerful, and rest assured of my sincere friendship. 

H. 



I am very glad to find that you feel greater strength of 
mind, and still more that you ascribe to me some share in 
the change. I have never dwelt particularly on my own 
views in our correspondence, and have always treated every 
subject that came under our notice with perfect impartiality. 
I believe (more than many men superior in talent to myself) 
that the subjects of thought and feeling discussed between 
friends should be thoroughly studied and investigated. I 
have always made myself and my own heart an object of 
study, and from thus dwelling upon my own sentiments and 

M2 



126 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

feelings, and knowing my own wants, I can tell what will 
give strength to others. I can understand, therefore, what 
you say of my letters, though you rate them too highly. 
Their influence arises from the fact that on the one side the 
thoughts are clearly and distinctly expressed, and that on 
the other they are perceived to be true by your inward 
experience. 

****** 

You remarked in a recent letter that pride had caused 
you much trouble. The subjugation of pride is certainly 
praiseworthy, and I am glad that you have so far succeeded. 
There is a species of pride, however, that exists in every 
rightly-thinking mind, which should rather be designated a 
just estimate of self. It is, properly speaking, the elevation 
of mind which occurs when we feel that we have completely 
mastered a noble idea, and made it our own. Man is proud 
of his ideas only in so far as they become part of himself. 
We most easily and securely avoid the by-paths where 
pride lurks, if we are genuine and unaffected in all our ac- 
tions, and dismiss energetically the first indication of pride, 
which has no further value than as prompting us to do that 
as a matter of course, for the omission of which we must 
have reproached ourselves. 

****** 

I am glad that you mention the planet Saturn. I have 
seen him this week with great pleasure. The return of the 
planets after a course of years to their place in the same 
constellations is very interesting. For Saturn, however, 
according to the astrologers, we can have little attachment. 
I remember seeing Jupiter more than once in Leo, the first 
time at a very happy period of my life. 

****** 

You will soon receive my " Correspondence with Schiller," 
which you should have had ere now. I have given orders 
for it to be sent to you. Prefixed to the letters you will 
find an Introduction treating of Schiller and the develop- 



LETTER XXXII. 127 

ment of his mind, which will serve as a guide to you in 
studying his writings. I go through his works, from the 
earliest to the latest, showing how he advanced from one 
to the other. The letters also refer to his works written 
during the time we were absent from each other. Scarcely 
any one could know Schiller more thoroughly than I did. 
Few saw so much of him, or were in such close intimacy. 
Such a man was not born for trade and traffic, but for poetry 
and thought to see to speak j and whole days and nights 
have we spent together in conversation. Though the years 
we were together were few, our lives were one. 

The beautiful weather continues; everything begins to 
bud and to shoot forth. 

Fare you well. With unalterable sympathy and friend- 
ship, yours, H. 



128 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XXXIII. 

TEGEL, June 4, 1832. 

I have not received a line from you, dear Charlotte, 
since my last letter, and I cannot say that I am entirely 
without anxiety. But perhaps before I close this letter, one 
from you may arrive. In the meantime I must trust to 
your assurance, that if you are not able to write yourself, 
you will take some means to convey intelligence to me. 
But I still write to you as usual. It always seems to me 
unfriendly to insist upon the constant exchange of letter 
for letter, and never to send one unless another has been 
received. It leads in the end also to still greater irregu- 
larity. Besides, you have often told me how glad you are 
to receive my letters, and an unexpected one will give you 
double pleasure. I must ask you to send your next so that 
it may arrive here on the 25th. I am going again to 
Nordernei, and shall probably leave home on the 1st of 
July, and I wish to receive a letter from you, dear Charlotte, 
a short time before. I undertake this journey reluctantly, 
not that I dislike Nordernei or sea-bathing, but that I am 
unwilling to leave Tegel, my usual residence, and to inter- 
rupt some important scientific labours to which I devote 
the greater part of the day, and which now constitute the 
greatest interest of my life. Not only, however, does my 
physician recommend the journey, but I myself feel that it 
is important. The infirmities which were partially removed 
by the sea-bathing last season, are gradually acquiring 
strength again. I do not wonder at this. When we have 
arrived at that period of life at which old age exercises a 
decided influence upon the health and strength, we must 
not look upon bodily infirmity, or even more serious illness, 



LETTER XXXIII. 129 

as a mere passing weakness, but rather as an inevitable 
consequence of added years. This I feel distinctly, and 
should not complain even if my ailments were more serious 
than they are. Nordernei has done me good before. My 
weakness probably arises from a morbid condition of the 
spine, and salt-water bathing, and particularly the action 
of the waves, are the most likely means to prevent the 
complaint from gaining strength. So I shall go for two 
months, in order to be able to work again with greater 
vigour. 



5th June. 

I was interrupted yesterday, and have now, as I hoped, 
received your letter, and I thank you very sincerely for its 
contents. You will see that I have anticipated your kind 
wish to hear of my health. I think it is very natural that 
the tendency of your mind should be to serious thought. 
This temperament is found in all thinking minds, it is ap- 
propriate to advanced life, and to your own peculiar dispo- 
sition. The painful events you have experienced, and the 
recent occurrence in your own household, might have in- 
duced such a state of mind, however, without any previous 
tendency to it. 

I cannot quite enter into your ideas respecting death and 
its relation to life. No one can fear it less than I do. I 
do not cling to life, and yet I am far from feeling an 
earnest desire for death, as, although this is better than 
satiety of life, it is still to be condemned. Life must, so 
long as it is the will of Providence, be enjoyed and suffered, 
in one word, must be accomplished, and must be borne 
with perfect resignation, without dejection, murmuring, or 
complaint. There is an important law of Nature, that 
should never be lost sight of: I mean that of our maturity 
for death. Death is not a cutting off of being, but merely 
a transition a passing from one form of external being to 
another. Both conditions, here and hereafter, are so con- 



130 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

nected, so inseparably bound up together, that the first 
moment there can only commence with the last moment 
here, when the perfect development of the being is com- 
pleted. No human wisdom can calculate, no inward feeling 
point out, the moment of this maturity for death, or the 
impossibility of advancing further. To attempt this would 
be vain presumption of human pride. HE only who is in a 
position to penetrate and examine the whole of our being 
can do this, and it is the dictate alike of duty and of wis- 
dom to commit the hour to Him, and never to oppose our 
impatient wishes to his determination. Believe me, if you 
examine these views thoroughly, you will find them to be 
the only ones that will lead us in peace through life, and 
that will never leave us without support. The first and 
most important duty in life is to learn to govern ourselves, 
to submit calmly to what is inevitable, and to look upon 
every circumstance, fortunate or the reverse, but as a means 
of acquiring greater mental and moral power. Thence 
arises that true resignation which so few really possess, but 
which all think they have. Almost every one considers 
resignation a duty up to a certain point, but beyond that 
they deem themselves exempted from the obligation. From 
the true resignation which is always accompanied by a 
feeling of confidence that an immutable and equal goodness 
brings the most unexpected and adverse circumstances to a 
blessed consummation, proceeds a calm cheerfulness in the 
prospect even of a disturbed and troubled life. To maintain 
or to acquire this cheerfulness should be the earnest en- 
deavour of all. It cannot be fully attained in every moment 
of life, nor can it be bestowed; it must be created in the 
soul itself. But it never fails to arise when the soil is 
prepared for it ; and this preparation consists principally in 
the cultivation of a thoughtful, peaceful tone of mind, free 
from all egotism. This every one has it in his power to 
acquire by the exercise of reason and the strength of will. 
But some discipline and preparation are necessary. Suitable 



LETTER XXXIII. 131 

employments contribute much to the composure of the 
spirits. No thought should be indulged which can be con- 
demned after a calm and impartial examination. 

Farewell, and rest assured of my unchangeable sym- 
pathy, H. 



132 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XXXIV. 

TEGEL, June 26, 1832. 

I have received your friendly letter of the 17th, dear 
Charlotte, and I thank you sincerely for it. You inquire 
affectionately after my health. Upon the whole, I cannot 
be sufficiently grateful for my present state. I really suffer 
from nothing, and am not considered an invalid either by 
those who see me daily, or only occasionally.t 

****** 

You remark very justly that I was not so liable to these 
attacks of illness before the loss of my wife, and that they 
have since become more severe. It certainly is so. To one 
who feels such a loss to be irreparable, the depressing sense 
of it increases as time wears on. But I dwell too long upon 
myself, and I will break off. 

I read with great pleasure what you said of yourself in 
your last letter. I believe I quite understand it. It con- 
tains at the same time so many expressions of attachment 
to myself, that I read it with double pleasure. If I under- 
stand you rightly that the present inclination of your mind 
is to be contented with the present and hopeful for the 
future, I quite approve of it. In old age, a life of contem- 
plation is the most suitable. There is still much to be said 
upon what you justly term your more profound ideas. As 
you add that they form a part of yourself, and enter largely 
into your plan of life, I will endeavour to explain. The 
exquisite passage which you quote from Herder is so eon- 



t Here follow some details of illness, which, though kindly meant, 
were painfully interesting to me; but they would probably weary 
the reader. 



LETTER XXXIV. 133 

sistent with my own opinion, that I cannot refrain from 
briefly entering into it. Herder says, very beautifully and 
truly, that deep and hidden strength comes to light in 
man which could never have become active unless the in- 
dividual had gone through much. I can say with truth, 
that it is in this view alone that life has any importance for 
me, and that it is quite incalculable what strength may be 
called forth by the varying circumstances of life. The de- 
velopment of every germ that lies in the individual nature 
of a man, and not the acquirement of happiness, I consider 
the true aim of earthly being. I do not calculate upon hap- 
piness for myself in these latter years of life, but I receive it 
gratefully when it comes unsought. To speak figuratively, 
in old age we encounter the decay and decline of many 
events. But in that state we have more strength to bear 
real affliction as the inevitable consequence of the chain of 
circumstances ; and Providence has wisely decreed that every 
objection which could be raised against the government of 
the world falls at once to the ground after thoughtful con- 
sideration. I like Herder's writings very much, and value 
the author personally. You will find mention made of him 
in the Introduction to my Correspondence with Schiller. 
Your letter alluded also to two other subjects to which I 
wished to reply, namely, the engraving of Napoleon at 
the point of death, and the propriety of second marriages. 
But neither time nor paper will permit more to-night. 

Direct your next letter to Nordernei by Aurich, between 
the 15th and 20th of July. 

With unchangeable and sincere sympathy, yours, 

H. 



VOL. n. N 



134 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XXXV. 

NORDERNEI, August 2, 1832. 

Here I am again, dear Charlotte, occupying the same 
rooms, and leading the same not very agreeable life. Such 
a residence year after year seems to me rather singular. It 
makes me ask myself whether next year will see me here 
again, and if not, for what reason. I am not so foolish as 
to expect to be able to dispense with bathing. I am neither 
ill nor well. The infirmities of old age, which, owing to 
peculiar circumstances, have come upon me early, may be 
affected by the regimen I pursue here ; but they can only 
be alleviated, not cured. I say this intentionally, lest your 
friendly interest in me should make you indulge hopes which 
must be disappointed. But I believe I may reasonably cal- 
culate upon deriving some benefit. My daughter is here 
with me again. The bathing was so beneficial to her last 
year, that it would have been wrong not to repeat it. The 
arrangements here are now much improved. 

The report in the newspapers that I was going to the 
Rhenish Provinces was quite without foundation. They 
might save themselves the trouble of alluding to me. I go 
on in my usual way, and dislike all trifling journeys and 
roundabout ways so much, that I always avoid them. If I 
did not dread a long absence from home, I should go to 
Italy or England, and I may possibly undertake the journey, 
particularly if my sight grows weaker, and prevents me from 
engaging in my usual employments. 

I am very glad that my Correspondence with Schiller has 
given you pleasure. The book has answered remarkably 
well. I had promised the edition to Schiller's heirs. They 
asked me for the letters after many years had passed, and 



LETTER XXXV. 135 

it cost me much trouble to arrange them. I was obliged 
to go through the whole correspondence in order to reject 
those which were not suitable for publication; and there 
were so many of these, that the matter dwindled to nearly 
a half. This work occupied several months in the winter, 
and then I had to write the preface. I did not expect any 
great interest to be excited by the book except for some of 
Schiller's letters and a very few of mine ; but the result has 
surpassed my expectations, and the book is much more read 
than I thought likely, especially by women. Many have 
spoken to me about it, and a few have written at some 
length that they quite enter into the ideas expressed, and 
some go even further. 

I do not agree with you that the book would have an- 
swered better if it had appeared earlier. I am in general 
quite opposed to the publication of letters; but it is justi- 
fied in this case by the name of one truly great man, to 
whom the other is throughout subordinate. Letters always 
bear a tinge of the real life of the writer. The more remote 
the period at which they appear, the more they take one 
by surprise. Immediately after death, they give but a feeble 
renewal of the reality living in the memory : appearing after 
a longer time, they bring back those of whom we had almost 
ceased to think, with all the circumstances that surrounded 
them in life. I did not think it could offend if letters were 
introduced which referred somewhat technically to that 
subject which at the time engrossed our own attention. 
Not that rules can be given for the cultivation of the poetic 
art : such a view is not brought forward in the course of 
this correspondence, as may be seen if you read some pas- 
sage on versification. Both Schiller and I sought only to 
lay down the principles from which the feeling springs, and 
the conditions to which it is subject. The feeling must arise 
in every one who perceives the truth of the principles, as 
they include other and equally great ideas; and one who 
does not agree with the principles may yet find his feelings 



136 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

interested, and by an attempted refutation may perhaps 
elicit the truth. 

I do not remember the passage in " Delphine."* If Ma- 
dame de Stael meant that a marriage entered upon in 
youth and lasting till old age is the most productive of 
happiness, I am quite of her opinion. But I fear such was 
not her meaning, and that it is an assertion founded on 
a superficial French idea. You must not suppose that I 
underrate De Stael. She was, according to my firm con- 
viction, a truly great woman, not merely in mental power 
but in genuine deep feeling and a self-sacrificing character. 
She had a refined susceptibility for the feminine virtues, 
and was in her secret feelings opposed to the French cha- 
racter; but French ideas sometimes appear in her works, 
which cannot be wondered at, as she always lived in France. 
She learnt German late in life: I gave her some lessons 
myself in Paris. 

But to call marriage more a necessity of old age than of 
youth, is an idea opposed by nature, truth, and every finer 
feeling. The vigour of youth is the true foundation of 
marriage. I do not say of course that the happiness of the 
state ceases with youth, or even that it is in the least dimi- 
nished. But the remembrance of youth enjoyed together 
must continue in advanced years, if the happiness is to be 
complete, and not lose the characteristics of the conjugal 
state. This view must not be considered a sensual one. 
The deepest and holiest feelings are closely connected, and 
we must deny all love if we did not acknowledge this. 
A young, mutually-attached, wedded pair, is in the highest 
degree an exhilarating spectacle, even in the lower stations 
of life, in so far as the feeling has the refinement which 
nature gives it in well-disposed minds. This cannot be said 



* Madame de Stael states in Delphine that marriage is desirable 
and necessary for old age or advanced life when one is alone, but 
that the young find their joys everywhere. 



LETTER XXXV. 137 

of marriages consummated at forty or forty-five, whether 
they be first or second. We will not blame them ; let each 
indulge his own feelings. Such unions may be reasonable 
they may also be happy for those whose happiness 
does not depend greatly upon their feelings. But one who 
feels deeply would never enter into such. Both men and 
women will feel that in such a union, if the object of early 
love has been torn away, or has never been found, they 
must resign a bliss the true spring-time of which can never 
again bloom for them. It will be impossible for them, in 
such a case, to comprehend the desire for so low an enjoy- 
ment. 

I cannot agree in what is said by many of old age. It 
may be unhappy and joyless ; but so may youth ; and, the 
circumstances being the same, I do not find age, even with 
the infirmities it brings with it, destitute of happiness : the 
nature only of some of the joys is different. To me they 
arise from a solitude in which I am occupied exclusively 
with my thoughts and feelings. This increases every day. 
I feel myself happy in this, and this alone ; and this is so 
evident, that the really judicious amongst my oldest ac- 
quaintances, though silent respecting this disposition, honour 
it in deed. To me it is doubly dear, as it agrees with my 
age and my situation. Pardon me that I have again re- 
verted to myself; but these things are of a kind which one 
can only discuss from his individual feeling. Who could 
presume to decide respecting others? 

I cannot yet determine my return ; but I will ask you to 
write to me at Berlin, so that the letter may arrive there 
between the 26th and 30th August. 

With sincere and unchangeable sympathy, yours, 

H. 



N2 



138 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XXXVI. 

TEGEL, September 3, 1832. 

I returned here safe and sound on the 26th of August, 
dear Charlotte, and resumed my usual occupations the day 
following. I expect to continue to derive the benefit I have 
already experienced from bathing. The weather in August 
was beautiful at Nordernei, without storm or rain, and never 
too hot, as the sea-breeze was always refreshing. The sun 
was frequently clouded : it is a peculiarity in the climate of 
all islands, particularly of small ones, to have very mild air, 
with but few sunny days. In Ireland, for instance, there are 
incredibly few bright days. I have been convinced by my 
residence this year at the sea-side, that if one, as is natural, 
takes moderate care of his own health, and is not sensitively 
afraid of inconveniences, he must wish for bad rather than 
good weather. In quiet, fine weather, the sea is little better 
than a large bathing-tub : storms and waves give it life and 
soul. As the sea in its sublime uniformity brings various 
images before the soul, and awakens the greatest variety of 
thoughts, it first became quite evident to me, from violent 
continued storms, what flattering gentleness the sea has in 
its greatest terrors. The wave, which swallows up what it 
seizes, comes sporting on, and covers the deep abyss with 
bright foam. The sea has been called deceitful and treache- 
rous ; but there lies in this trait of character great natural 
strength, which, to speak according to our own feelings, 
renews its powers, and, mourning over no sorrow and ex- 
ulting over no joy, follows eternal laws, which are imposed 
by a higher Power. 

I found everything here, in both house and garden, in the 
best order. In the garden I find a very agreeable change 



LETTER XXXVI. 139 

from last year, when I returned home only a few days later. 
Everything is still beautifully green. This must arise from 
the summer having been cool and wet, which has great 
effect upon these sandy soils. Last year I returned home 
at the time the cholera appeared, and many were in great 
anxiety, and some in utter consternation. I myself took the 
usual precautions. Now the cholera is in many places, and 
may very probably reach Berlin, though at present there are 
no signs of it. But if it does appear, we need not dread it 
much more than any other illness. One may become accus- 
tomed to anything, and the terrors of cholera are more 
those of the imagination than reality. Illness of any kind 
may be much aggravated by fear and anxiety. 

You praise my tranquillity, and lament the general im- 
patience of men under illness. This arises from the fact 
that most men depend upon external activity for their 
happiness, and illness puts a stop to that. But this is not 
my case : the perfect quiet which sickness enforces is not ob- 
jectionable to me. The uneasiness and confusion caused by 
some kinds of illness might be lessened if the invalid werer 
exhibit more tranquillity of mind. It is quite a different 
thing with positive pain. But even in such cases a great 
deal may be done. A man has gained much who looks 
on illness not as suffering to be yielded to, but as a work 
to be accomplished ; for it is certain that the sufferer him- 
self can contribute greatly to the restoration of his health 
and strength. What you call my tranquillity is no merit 
of mine, but a fortunate tendency of temperament. If I 
am quietly left to myself, and no one troubles himself about 
me, or makes me anxious by too much pity,, or weary by 
unasked cares, an illness must be very tedious and severe 
to make me impatient. 

You do not refer in your last letter to the subject of old 
age ; but I am still of the same opinion not merely as regards 
myself but also as regards others. At the same time I do 
not say that it was my wish to become old : this is even less 



140 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

the case than that I now desire to become much older. I 
have never encouraged the habit of wishing, but as I have 
become old without any action of my own, it appears to 
me best to dwell upon the privileges of the decline of life, 
rather than bring forward its inconveniences. These I re- 
member only with the view of guarding myself against the 
failings of old age, and especially from over-estimating my 
powers. For I quite agree with you, that at some period 
of life, though an indeterminate one, the mental powers do 
decline. But old age, whether it be a beneficial appointment 
of nature or not, is one of the developments of human life ; 
and it would be wrong if man did not strive to discover 
which of his thoughts, feelings, and emotions, shared his 
physical decline. It cannot be avoided, let us therefore 
take the noblest view of it. We must not dismiss old age 
with the commonplace observation that we retain experience 
and lose the sense of suffering. This view arises from taking 
too low a point of survey, and what in this sense we call 
experience and suffering are of little value. In respect to 
the former, old age itself has nothing to do. An active and 
energetic life is necessary to collect experience. But in men 
naturally well-disposed, old age brings peace and patience, 
cessation of the struggles for independence, and freedom 
from anxious cares; and these privileges and advantages 
elevate and improve all else. Old age is sometimes accused 
of producing the opposite of all this; but such cases are 
rare, and only in natures of which it is not worth while to 
speak. In many, on the contrary, there is either a praise- 
worthy cheerfulness, or a more earnest and reflective tone 
of mind, which has nothing gloomy in it. From these 
different tendencies it arises that some old people seek 
society and some prefer solitude. Old age affects different 
individuals according to their original varieties of character. 
If the inclination be to inward contemplation, the man cul- 
tivates the materials of thought collected during his life, to 
which all his experience belongs, whilst he rejects some as 



LETTER XXXVI. 141 

not worthy of preservation. I do not think that the result 
of this is naturally the composition of a book, but generally 
a living or dreaming over ideas of all sorts, a spiritual brood- 
ing over the past and future, or rather a thoughtful union 
of the two. If the individual, by taste or necessity, directs 
his energies to external realities, he becomes in old age, 
according to Schiller's ideas, fit for little else than to heap 
sand grain upon grain. 

Kespecting suffering, there is much to say, but I must 
return to it some other time. I am enjoying the prospect 
of spending an undisturbed year in this place. 

I must ask you to give up our former agreement in re- 
spect to our letters. Farewell. I hope you are enjoying 
yourself in your garden this beautiful weather. Ever 
yours, H. 



142 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XXXVII. 

TEGEL, Oct. 4, 1832. 

Your letter of September 27, dear Charlotte, was so full 
of communications that cheered my heart from referring to 
what had secured greater tranquillity for you, that I was 
sincerely rejoiced to receive it. I shall commence with your 
first subject, namely, the cholera, which I was very glad 
to see by the papers was not very malignant in K. Your 
letter appears to me to confirm this. It may become more 
severe, but the great dread of its ravages has disappeared, 
and with reason. The disease is not so fatal, and men 
have now become wiser. You are perfectly right when you 
say that the preparations to meet it, and the formidable fu- 
nerals of its victims, excite more fear than would be occa- 
sioned by the disease itself, which from its rapidity causes 
so short a period of suffering. I was myself at one time of 
opinion that it was contagious, but I am now convinced of 
the contrary. I hope you may remain quite free from any 
attack of this fearful complaint. I am very glad to be able 
to think of your retired life in your garden, and still more 
of your simple and regular way of living. There is much 
less danger of illness being fatal to one who lives in this 
manner, and has so little fear of death. If, however, you 
should be in the least unwell, let me know immediately, 
and with the assurance that you will do so I shall be quite 
easy^even when you are silent. May Heaven preserve your 
health ! My own continues very good. I have not even a 
threatening of illness. The only circumstances that give me 
any cause for complaint are, that I require more sleep than 
formerly, that after any particular exertion I feel in my 
joints a sensation not of weariness, but of helplessness, 



LETTER XXXVII. 143 

I might say a want of flexibility, and that my sight and 
hearing are becoming duller. You may be quite satisfied 
that I have nothing further to complain of: I am quite 
contented myself. 

***** 

Man is apt to judge of things not so much by their in- 
trinsic worth, as by their agreement with his own precon- 
ceived ideas. 

***** 

Man reconciles himself to almost any event, however 
trying, if it happen in the ordinary course of nature. It is 
the extraordinary alone that he rebels against. A moral 
idea is associated with this feeling, because an unlooked-for 
occurrence of that sort appears more like an injustice of 
Heaven. 

***** 

We are accustomed to say that habit makes unpleasant 
things endurable. I do not believe that the impression 
made is different, but merely that, seeing the return of the 
evil to be inevitable, a man resigns himself to it. 
***** 

It is the noble prerogative of man that he can say to 
sorrow and to death, " I will endure you!" and thus he 
possesses real power over them. Without this power, the 
constant prospect of grief and suffering would be productive 
of great and positive misery. The suffering and the remedy 
spring from the same source. With illness I mean in 
all its various forms it is otherwise. There is only one 
state of health, but there are many forms of sickness. These 
have their being, like other active agents, upon earth. They 
often arise without any apparent reason, and disappear in 
the same manner. It is remarkable that the ancients had 
complaints of which we fortunately know nothing, and vice 
versa. No less strange are the varieties of disease that 
occur, as we now witness in the cholera. It is not yet de- 
cided whether this complaint, which excites so much atten 



144 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

tion, be communicated from one individual to another, or 
by the air : most probably the latter. 



November. 

What do you say of this extraordinarily beautiful autumn? 
I did not think that I should have seen another like the 
last. It appears more like the continuation of summer than 
the entrance into winter. I still walk for an hour at sun- 
set. It is the quietest time on stormy days, and the bright- 
est on rainy ones. No doubt you have often observed that 
the sun, as he sinks, forms by his own beams a stripe of 
light, in which he sets. If dark clouds obscure this light, 
it generally rains after the setting, and sometimes during 
the time. It is to me the pleasantest part of the day. 

You tell me that the rosa centifolia is in bloom in K. I 
have seen it here also, to my great surprise. In southern 
countries this repeated blossoming is common enough. We 
see by this that vegetable life has the inclination, so to 
speak, constantly to bring forth flowers, but is prevented 
by unfavourable circumstances. However long and dreary 
the winter may be, we are indemnified by the spring, not 
merely by the enjoyment of it when it comes, but by the 
anticipation of it. This desire is one of the simplest and 
most natural, and one of the purest sources from which 
every other desire flows which creates any greatness in the 
soul and calls up its deepest thoughts. This is certainly 
one of the reasons why the Northern nations possess a 
poetry that addresses itself more to the profounder nature 
of the heart than those in the South, though the latter may 
have a richer language. There is much in the influence of 
surrounding Nature upon us, and this arises not so much 
from its affording us enjoyment, as from its awakening our 
emotions, and bringing our powers into activity. Fare you 
well Yours, H. 



LETTER XXXVIII. 145 



LETTER XXXVIII. 

TEQKL, December 1832. 

The tone of tranquillity and even of cheerfulness, in 
which your last letter was written, dear Charlotte, has given 
me very great pleasure. I now entertain a decided hope 
that this tone of mind will become habitual. I am the more 
inclined to indulge this hope, as your health has been so 
much stronger since you were relieved from the painful 
anxiety which had so long oppressed you, and you have 
again resigned yourself to the calmness and composure which 
a mind like yours, at one with Providence, must always 

enjoy. 

* * * * 

It is very natural that during times of extraordinary ex- 
citement, calculated to produce serious thoughts, minds of 
an earnest tone should become still more reflective. To 
the desire to leave nothing unfinished and incomplete, is 
added a moral feeling, and one certainly deserving of all 
respect. 

* * * * 

Man feels an obligation to imitate, in the narrow circle 
of his being, the great ideas which exist within him, and 
which he sees stamped upon Nature. And often when he 
thinks he is prompted by quite different motives than those 
derived from ordinary life, he does in fact follow this secret 
bias. Human nature is generally much nobler in its depths 
than appears upon the surface. It is the same in other 
points. Vain or frivolous men are in some cases of greater 
importance than even they themselves imagine. 

* * * * 

VOL. II. O 



146 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

You use in your letter the expression " to set his house 
in order." This has always appeared to me a very pertinent 
and valuable saying. It is an ancient, truly scriptural ex- 
pression, which, like many such, derives its value from being 
drawn from the realities of life, and going deep into the 
soul. Long ago, before I reached the age at which house- 
hold arrangements became necessary, I always endeavoured 
to make pauses in life, and found the habit very useful. 
There is also a setting in order of the soul as well as of the 
house. A man then fixes his mind upon a narrow circle of 
emotions, surrenders other feelings to oblivion, and rejoices 
in the repose produced by this restriction. If he does this 
rightly, it requires to be done but once. He does not then 
neglect the range of thought he has thus marked out and 
circumscribed. 

You praise my patience. There is nothing praiseworthy 
in it, and it has cost me no effort to acquire : I might say 
it was born with me. The time that a piece of work oc- 
cupies never appears long to me. 

You mention a circumstance which happened long ago 
in Holzminden in Brunswick. This has forcibly recalled 
something to my memory. From that small place I went 
in 1789 with Campe to Paris. Campe came from Bruns- 
wick, and I from Gb'ttingen. This journey, of which you 
have read, as Campe published an account of it, was short, 
but it was my first out of Germany. Campe was, as I 
think I have told you, a tutor in my father's family; there 
is still a long row of trees here that he planted. He cer- 
tainly had an unhappy and lamentable end. He was quite 
imbecile during the last years of his life. I was taught by 
him to read and write, and learnt from him something of 
history and geography on the old-fashioned plan of chief 
towns, the seven wonders of the world, &c. He had a very 
happy natural talent of interesting children and bringing 
them on. 

I am perfectly well, and enjoy mental tranquillity. I 



LETTER XXXVIII. 147 

wish most heartily that you may close this year in health 
and cheerfulness, and that the next may open to you in 
peace ! Let your wish for me be, that nothing may occur to 
disturb my enjoyment of solitude, which is my true happi- 
ness, and that I may think of you as tranquil and con- 
tented ! 

With sincerest friendship and unchangeable sympathy, 
yours, H. 



148 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XXXIX. 

TEGEL, Jan. 7, 1833. 

Receive first, dear Charlotte, my sincere good wishes 
for the year we have entered upon. May Heaven bestow 
upon you health and cheerfulness ! Your own desires are 
so moderate in respect to external circumstances, that a 
wish from me is scarcely required; but I will not omit 
even this. Inward peace and tranquillity you must earn for 
yourself. It is the heavenly gift which, whilst it comes 
from Heaven, can only be considered to have its rise in the 
heart of the individual. You have, as I perceive with much 
pleasure, acquired greater mental power, and as each gains 
this for himself, there can never be a limit to the acquire- 
ment of it. 

* * * * 

A year could not begin under brighter or more favour- 
able auspices than this has done. I go out every day in all 
weathers, but now with double pleasure. 

In November 1835 one of the well-known comets will 
return. Shall we see it? I neither desire nor expect it. 
Each return is a point of time which leads our thoughts to 
Heaven. 

* * * * 

I often walk by moonlight. In this cold but always dry 
air, there is nothing to fear from damps or mists as in the 
evenings in other seasons. The sky is too beautiful at that 
time to allow me to miss the enjoyment of it. It is alto- 
gether inexpressible how much the heavens contribute to 
beautify the earth. This is so much the more remarkable 
as the effect is so simple : only stars and clouds, and that 



LETTER XXXIX. 149 

immeasurable arch which alone is an eternity, in which the 
soul and the imagination are lost. The earth really shines 
only in the light which the heavens pour upon it. The 
superior charm of the climate of Italy over that of Germany 
does not arise from the richness of the soil or the beauty of 
the country, but because the sky has quite another appear- 
ance, such a deep blue by day, and such an intense black 
at night, and the stars shining in such abundance. But 
on the other hand, it is remarkable that the heavens are so 
beautiful and mild, because at such a distance they affect 
the eye only as an optical charm, and every other material 
influence fades away. It is also worthy of observation how 
we look upon the sky with its hosts of brilliant stars, more 
as a subject of the mind and fancy, than as a reality. If 
one could believe a journey amongst the planets possible, 
it would be, it appears to me, an object of dread and fear. 
If we were beyond the limits of our atmosphere, which in 
its higher regions only is unpleasant, we should come upon 
the rolling and motion of these gigantic heavenly bodies, 
which in a clear view, as masses of light and shade, would 
be equally formidable. A nearer approach, by which many 
stars would appear larger, is not desirable. The greater 
lights in greater number would be too uniform, and would 
outshine the lesser and more distant ones, and make them 
invisible. I cannot imagine that our nights would be made 
more beautiful by this earth being attended, like some of 
the other planets, by more satellites. Saturn's ring is one in 
a different form. If we think of this as a golden double 
bridge stretched over the heavens, it would present an ex- 
traordinary appearance. From all this we may conclude 
that the heavens, which in a spiritual sense every one wishes 
near to him, are materially so much more beautiful at a 
distance. 

This very long digression upon the heavens has been 
induced by the remarkable beauty of yesterday evening. 
Besides the brilliancy of the moon and stars, sounds came 

o2 



150 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

from the frozen lake, which can be so clearly distinguished 
in the stillness of night : they resemble sometimes a crash- 
ing and crackling, but more generally a long-continued, 
mournful noise. 

Fare you well. With sincere unchangeable sympathy, 
yours, H. 



LETTER XL. 151 



LETTER XL. 

TEQEL, Feb. 9, 1833. 

I am sorry, dear Charlotte, that you will receive this 
letter rather later than usual. I have been in town on 
business for some days, and I can get no quiet writing done 
there. As I seldom visit Berlin, all my business accumu- 
lates, and I have no time to begin anything for myself, even 
if I had the inclination. In this way I missed the first day 
of the month, on which I am accustomed to write to you. 
I hope you have not been uneasy at the delay of the letter. 
I entreat you never to be so, dear friend, or you will give 
undue importance to the slight and trivial reasons why I 
cannot write on this or that day, and I can as little foresee 
these causes as you can guess them. But you may safely 
suppose, if my letter does not arrive at the usual time, that 
the delay arises from some trifling circumstance. As I am 
accustomed to write to you at the same period in each 
month, a longer interval between any two brings round 
the next in quicker succession, and this gives you plea- 
sure, since you value my letters so much more highly than 
they deserve. Your pleasure is also mine, and this con- 
sideration induces me cheerfully to sacrifice the time the 
writing costs me. 

I returned here yesterday, and now sit down to have 
some conversation with you, for our correspondence should 
rather be called by that name. As it relates mostly to 
subjects of thought, and refers little to the circumstances 
of external life, it more resembles a spoken dialogue than 
written letters. Ideas, indeed, are the only genuine things 
remaining in life : they are, in the truest sense, what serve 



152 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

to occupy long and earnestly the minds of all thinking 
men. It is principally this in my letters that makes them 
interesting to you. It gives me very great satisfaction that 
you now no longer press me, as you used to do, to write 
about myself and my own circumstances, to do which is 
not at all in accordance with my inclinations. But you 
must not think that I wish you to be silent on these sub- 
jects as regards yourself. On the contrary, it gives me great 
pleasure to view your inner life through your outward cir- 
cumstances. Do not neglect to give me this insight from 
time to time as heretofore. 

* # * # 

You ask me in your last letter to give you some explana- 
tion of my exact meaning as to what must be done at 
certain epochs in life, which we call " setting our house in 
order." I understand by the phrase something very simple 
and of ordinary meaning. We say we have set our house 
in order, when we have taken care to arrange everything 
in case of our death. The phrase also includes the settle- 
ment of what we leave behind us after our departure. This 
setting in order prevents all confusion, uncertainty, and 
restlessness, and demands regularity, thoughtfulness, and 
tranquillity of mind. We borrow the expression from 
external, worldly life; but it has a higher and nobler 
sense in relation to the spiritual life. There are also 
ideas more or less important more or less connected 
with the earthly being directly or indirectly associated 
with the highest aspirations of man. I do not mean ex- 
actly or at least not exclusively religious ideas. What 
I here refer to are not generally considered to belong 
to that sphere. It cannot be determined which shall be 
called the highest and most important. But every man 
finds from his own experience that he is apt to devote the 
shortest period of his leisure to what lies the deepest in his 
nature, and allows himself to be robbed of his hours of 
meditation by subordinate objects. This must be put an 



LETTER XL. 153 

end to, all distracting occupations resigned, and the energies 
bent upon more important objects. But this self-collection, 
as it may be called, upon the short remaining span of life, 
relates still more to the dominion of feeling. There is 
here in general a greater and more important distinction. 
In intellectual subjects, we have fuller control over our 
resolutions, and can direct our thoughts and meditations to 
a certain point. In cases of feeling, this is not only im- 
possible, but would not be desirable. In the dominion of 
feeling, it is impossible that anything unnatural or forced 
should exist. The change can only proceed from within, 
and may be compared to the ripening of fruit. It takes 
place of itself, as the whole tone of mind discovers that this 
release from the present state of existence is quite over- 
looked in the mind. The change consists in a simple with- 
drawing of the mind from other objects, and fixing it upon 
itself. Yet here, still less than in the dominion of thought, 
is its individuality expressed by any important utterance. 
In this simple manner my mind has been so concentrated 
upon one emotion as to be inaccessible to every other, in 
so far at least as respects my receiving any gratification 
from other emotions. For I am not become in any way 
cold and unsympathising, only resigning any claim upon 
others, and not looking for happiness either from my fellow- 
creatures or from outward circumstances. I should feel any 
calamity like another man; that would be human nature: 
pain and deprivation must be felt as evils. But they would 
not deprive me of my peace of mind ; that would be pre- 
vented by the reflection that such circumstances are but 
the natural conditions of human existence, and that during 
the course of a long life a man should acquire the power 
to maintain his higher and better nature amidst the conflict 
of circumstances. 

I know not whether I have made myself clear to you. 
If I have not, or if my views do not appear to you to be 



154 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

correct, I will return to the subject, and enter into it more 
in detail. 

* * * * 

You speak in your letter of artificial assistants to thought 
which you have contrived, and you propose to tell me more 
about them if I wish it. Pray do so. Farewell. With 
constant sympathy, yours, H. 



LETTER LXT. 155 



LETTER XLI. 

TEGEL, March 8, 1833. 

This month also I am beginning my letter much later 
than I intended, dear Charlotte, and as it takes me a long 
while to write, it will be some time before you receive it. 
But you must never be uneasy on this account; yet you 
will say that we cannot thus control our feelings. I always 
intend to write to you on the first day of the month, but 
owing to the arrangement of my time, there are often 
several days together, when, with the best intentions, it is 
quite out of my power to do so. The forenoon is always 
dedicated to scientific pursuits : here, at Tegel, I make no 
exceptions, which in town I am sometimes compelled to do. 
These labours now constitute my life ; my thoughts are all 
directed to them, and as I now require a great deal of sleep, 
my mornings are very short. In the afternoon I walk for 
two hours, and the rest of the day remains for my long 
letters and a variety of other occupations. Sometimes these 
are very urgent, as in the present case ; or a visitor arrives, 
and the progress of my letter to you is unwillingly retarded. 
I have fortunately fewer interruptions than many others, 
and I possess one great advantage, that I am never hin- 
dered by not being in the humour to write. Sometimes I 
undertake one piece of work when I should prefer some 
other, and then I have at the beginning to force my in- 
clinations and urge myself into a frame of mind suitable 
for it. 

These last words have reminded me of your tables. They 
have interested me very much. It is an original idea to 
classify the daily occurrences of life, and to record the frame 
of mind and the various circumstances which act upon it. 



156 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

Half a life so registered would afford abundant material for 
comparison and reflection. 

The whole of your letter has given me pleasure, as it 
displays a certain and truly cheerful tone. But I am very 
much grieved to hear of the recent loss that you have sus- 
tained. The departure of many before us, as we advance 
in years, is a painful trial to our cheerfulness. But I go 
yet further : even the growing old of those we have known 
in the vigour of mind and body is very sad. I would will- 
ingly be old myself, if those around me could retain their 
youth. This is, however, though at first view it does not 
appear so, a selfish wish. 

You ask me what I mean, when I say respecting ideas 
that they are all that remain to man, and that they alone 
serve to occupy life. The question is not easily answered, 
but I will endeavour to make myself understood. In the 
first place, ideas stand opposed to transitory, external ob- 
jects, and consequently to emotions, desires, and sufferings 
derived from these. All that relates to selfish views and 
transitory enjoyments is necessarily antagonistic, and can 
never be brought into unison with a spiritual idea. But 
many higher and more noble emotions and deeds, as be- 
nevolence, the care of those who are near to us, and many 
other equally praiseworthy actions, are not to be reckoned 
in the number; and he whose life depends upon ideas will 
only be influenced by them in so far as the external action 
is a manifestation of the inward principle. Such a man 
rests upon an idea; and this is the case with individuals 
of a vivid imagination. This idea is that of universal bene- 
ficence, and the want of this is a discord, or a hindrance 
to our union with higher and more perfect spirits, and 
with the benevolent Mind which exhibits itself in Nature, 
and animates her every manifestation. But these actions 
may also spring from a sense of duty; and this sense of 
duty, when it arises from a feeling of obligation without 
any consideration of inclination or even of a divine reward, 



LETTER XLI. 157 

must be classed amongst the most elevated ideas. But we 
must be careful to separate the exercises of the intellect 
and memory from these ideas; for though such may lead to 
them, they do not themselves deserve the name. You thus 
see that the Idea arises from something infinite from an 
ultimate connection from something that would enrich 
the soul if it could set itself free from all earthly ties. All 
great and important truths are of this nature. 

But there are many things which cannot be measured 
and comprehended by thought, which yet are not the less 
true. Into our estimate of some of these an artistic imagi- 
nation enters eagerly ; for it possesses the power of exhibit- 
ing the sentient and finite, for example, corporeal beauty, 
independently of the countenance and its spiritual expres- 
sion, as if it were something infinite. The art of poetry 
is a means of transforming much into ideas which cannot 
originally be considered in reference to them. Even truth, if 
it lie chiefly in the thoughts, requires such an addition for 
its completion. For as we have contemplated the Idea in 
reference to its object, we may also describe it in reference 
to the temper of mind which it requires. As it is now a 
conclusion of the connection, it demands, in order to com- 
prehend it, an entireness of soul a united working of all 
the powers of mind ; thought and feeling must be in unison, 
and as feeling, even when most full of soul, has always a 
reference to something material, the imagination of an artist 
alone is able to effect a union with thought which stands 
opposed to all that is material. One who possesses no taste 
for art, and does not care for poetry or music, will generally 
find a difficulty in comprehending ideas, and will in no case 
truly understand and feel what the Idea is. Such differences 
in men arise from the varieties of their original spiritual 
temperaments. Cultivation does nothing. It may improve, 
but it can never create ; and there are hundreds of men who 
cultivate the arts and sciences, who yet plainly show by 

VOL. II. P 



158 

every word that the natural disposition which is the all 
important thing is wanting. 

The great value of ideas is known especially by the 
following consideration: Man, when he quits this world, 
leaves behind him all which does not, exclusively and in- 
dependently of earthly relations, belong to his spiritual 
nature. But this is the case with ideas alone, and it is their 
most marked characteristic. That which has no power to 
occupy the soul when it feels the necessity of resigning all 
earthly objects, cannot be reckoned amongst the number. 
To arrive at this moment of departure with the mind en- 
riched by the possession of purified ideas, is a noble aim, 
worthy of every faculty of heart and soul. 

It was with this reference and for this reason that I 
called Ideas the only possession that remains to man, be- 
cause they alone are retained when the world itself dis- 
appears. You will perhaps instance love and friendship; 
but these are themselves only ideas. Of friendship this is 
clear. Of love you must excuse my speaking. It may be a 
weakness, but I utter the word reluctantly, and do not like 
to hear it from the lips of others. Men have often singular 
views of love. They imagine they can love more than once, 
yet only once the right object. They deceive themselves, 
or have been deceived. I dispute no one's feelings. But 
what I call love, is quite another thing : it can occur but 
once in a lifetime, can never deceive, or be itself deceived, 
and depends entirely upon ideas. 

But I fear I have wearied you, without making myself 
quite clear. If this be the case I must request your for- 
giveness. It was at your express desire that I wrote to you 
about it, and the difficulty lies in the subject. But perhaps 
you may find something tangible, and if you send me more 
questions, I shall willingly give you further illustrations. 
Yours as ever, H. 



LETTER XLII. 159 



LETTER XLII. 

TEGEL, April 7, 1833. 

I have had your letter in my possession a long time, 
dear Charlotte, but have not been able to answer it sooner. 
You merely dated it March, and, contrary to your custom, 
did not mention the day you sent it off. I must request 
you in future always to insert this. A letter of which one 
only knows the month in which it is written, is a vague 
communication, and I always value the mention of the day. 
The feeling of time exerts a deep influence upon the soul. 
This arises from the fact, that the thoughts and feelings 
are affected by time. 

* * * * 

I have often, even in my childhood, begun to keep jour- 
nals, but have always destroyed them after a time. I am 
sorry, however, that I have not preserved as much as would 
have at least pointed out on each day where I was, what I 
did, and whom I saw. I should have liked to possess such a 
record from my tenth year. I do not much value detailed 
journals which give judgments and reflections upon the 
deeds and thoughts. It is hardly possible to write such 
with a view to one's self alone. Even if we show it to no one, 
we yet write for an imaginary public, and are really more 
embarrassed than when we exercise judgment upon another 
individual. The interest in that other draws off the soul 
from being too much absorbed by self, and consequently 
promotes candour and ensures a degree of naivete" in the 
narration. It is especially to be feared that in such remarks 
we should spare ourselves too much. Exaggeration often lies 
in opposition to truth. It is rather to be feared that vanity 



160 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

may be fed by it. The more we are occupied with ourselves, 
the more apt we are to consider everything that happens to us 
as more extraordinary than the events that occur to others, 
and to attach a value to every circumstance as an especial 
appointment of Providence in respect to ourselves. Such 
errors, however, may be avoided, and the keeping of a 
journal may then become an equally pleasing and useful 
employment. 

*#** 
Time is only an empty space, which acquires sense and 
meaning from events, thoughts, and feelings. But when we 
think how that meaning has come fraught with joy and 
sorrow to many men of sensitive nature, our own hearts 
become affected. Its quiet, calm power also has an almost 
magical charm. The day on which a great misfortune has 
overtaken us is, after a long course of years, forgotten and 
passed over, and calm and unrecognised is the advance of 
one in which a calamity inevitably awaits us. If we reflect 
deeply upon the consequences of time, we lose ourselves as 
in an abyss: there is neither beginning nor end. But a 
great consolation lies in contemplating the course of life, in 
which may ever be recognised a sublime law an eternal 
controlling will an immutable order. There is something 
very soothing in the recognition of this order in all the 
ordinations of the world, in the frailty of human nature, 
and in the apparently uncontrolled destructive power of the 
elements. The regular rising of the sun, and the waxing 
and waning of the moon, must give something of this feel- 
ing even to savage nations. The more the study of Nature 
is cultivated, the more proofs of this order are perceived. 
For a correct knowledge of the heavenly bodies, scientific 
observation is necessary. If this is attained in the highest 
degree, as with us, deviations from established order become 
perceptible, and movements which are apparently irrecon- 
cilable with other observed laws. These are certain signs 
that there exist new fields for discovery and investigation; 



LETTER XLII. 161 

for all scientific labour is but the deducing general laws 
out of new materials and discoveries. 

* * * # 

You complain in general terms of your memory, but 
make some exceptions. Few could do more than that. 
Memory is exercised on various objects, and in no person 
is it equally good on all points. The most agreeable is a 
ready memory for poetry. With real taste in the selection, 
and talent in the repetition, there is none which has a greater 
charm. But for good recitation many things are necessary : 
first, of course, what only a good education can give to 
any one, a just comprehension of the sense, and a good, 
clear pronunciation, free from all provincialisms ; and then 
what is innate, a happily constituted, sensitive organiza- 
tion, a fine musical ear for the intonation, a genuine poetic 
feeling, and a mind in which all the human affections exist 
in strength and purity. The enjoyment which such a re- 
citation of really beautiful poetry ensures, can in fact never 
be exhausted. I have frequently derived very great plea- 
sure from it. Learning by heart, and repeating poetry or 
passages from poems, has a great charm in a solitary life, 
and often cheers one in a moment of depression. When I 
was young I committed to memory many passages from 
Homer, Goethe, and Schiller, which I can recal at any 
moment, and I shall now never forget them. We cannot 
do better than thus occupy ourselves with the great thoughts 
of others. 

* # * * 

I am thankful to say I am very well, but I am going 
again in the summer to Nordernei for sea-bathing. My 
friends say that it alleviates my infirmities, though I can 
scarcely perceive it myself, and probably you will hardly 
judge it to be so from my handwriting. But it is possible 
that the annual use of the baths may prevent these ail- 
ments from gaining strength. Perhaps the waters have 
nothing to do with it. But we are willing to be grateful, 

p2 



162 

and the sea is a beautiful and noble object for gratitude. 
It is an annoyance to me to leave this place ; but as I must 
submit to the necessity, I try to enjoy the agreeable part of 
it, and to pass over the annoyances as lightly as possible, 
though I leave my present solitude as unwillingly as I 
should do a beloved friend. 

* * # * 

In this letter I mention yourself last, dear Charlotte, but 
you must not attribute this to want of sympathy with you. 
I wished to draw your attention to my thoughts, into which 
you always enter with so kindly a feeling. Not that I was 
not perfectly satisfied with the tone of your mind. Melan- 
choly after the loss of a beloved friend is natural, and can 
scarcely be considered a painful emotion. The most noble 
kind of melancholy is always accompanied by a calm resig- 
nation, and the expression of this in your last letter makes 
me value it particularly. This resignation forms an impor- 
tant feature in your mind. I have never indeed observed 
any want of it in you, but it appears to me to have become 
now more settled and decided. A sure proof of it is when 
cheerfulness is the result of resignation. 

With the present you are contented : trust also in the 
future, and dismiss all anxious cares. The future is indeed 
uncertain, but remember that Eternal Goodness always 
watches over us. Confidence should spring from this re- 
flection, which every one should cherish in his bosom. 

With earnest sympathy and affection unchangeably yours, 

H. 



LETTER XLIII. 163 



LETTER XLIII. 

TEGEL, April 28, 1833. 

I am beginning a letter to you, dear Charlotte, before 
receiving yours. 

We shall have to wait unusually long for spring this 
year : the hedges are just beginning to look green, but no 
leaves are out. Trees like the oak and the acacia, which 
are always late, will have but a short summer; for they will 
scarcely be in full foliage until the commencement of June, 
and they lose their leaves in September : this is usually the 
case in the north at least. But there is a sort of compen- 
sating power in nature, by which vegetation, when it has 
once thrown off its torpidity, reaches its full development 
with incredible rapidity. I have not been further north 
than Konigsberg, but I cannot describe to you the different 
aspect presented in spring by one morning from the one 
preceding it. In southern countries, the change from winter 
to spring is too slight, and the cheerful awakening of nature 
is less striking than with us. But they are amply repaid by 
a thousand other advantages, and never feel the death-like 
torpidity of our winter. The desire of having this change 
of season very much marked, resembles the wish to suffer 
pain in order to enjoy the cure. A climate resembling ours, 
but much more propitious in the earlier development of 
nature, the regularity, and the longer continuance of the fine 
season, is enjoyed in some districts of Southern Germany, 
and in Switzerland where the high mountains are not too 
near, particularly around the charming lake of Constance. 
There Spring reigns in all her glory. 

It may be owing to this remarkable season that there is 
a greater amount of 'illness, though upon the whole few 



164 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

deaths. Amongst the deaths, one has occurred which has 
universally and deservedly awakened deep sympathy, for the 
deceased was justly beloved, and his family have sustained 
a severe loss by his death. No doubt you have seen in the 
papers that Prince Radziwill is dead. He married a Royal 
Princess, a cousin of our King. They were mutually at- 
tached to each other, and were married about the same time 
that I was. The Princess is a remarkably clever woman, 
and the Prince was very amiable and benevolent. His 
talent for music was very well known. He set a great part 
of Goethe's Faust to music. About three years since, these 
happy parents had the misfortune, in the midst of their 
prosperity, to lose two grown-up sons from consumption, 
with but a short interval between the death of each. This 
winter the eldest daughter suddenly broke a blood-vessel, 
and has since had so many consumptive symptoms that her 
recovery is very doubtful. A fortnight after her illness, her 
father died quite unexpectedly, under what was thought to 
have been only a slight attack of influenza. The daughter 
was in such a weak state that they did not venture to tell 
her of his death. We can hardly imagine what the poor 
mother must have suffered, and what it must have cost her 
to appear cheerful in presence of her daughter, and to speak 
of her father, now gone to his rest, as if he would soon be 
restored to health, and to keep up this effort for weeks. 
What strength of mind and resignation are exhibited by 
these remarkable women ! 

* * * # 

You allude to Gall in your letter. I knew him personally, 
and attended his lectures on Phrenology in Vienna in 1797. 
I have never for a moment had any faith in the science ; but 
it is one of those inventions which, when divested of their 
quackery, leave behind an important truth. The service 
which Gall did to science consisted in this, that he first 
pointed out and established the true form and construction 
of the brain. He was besides a good physician. I saw him 



LETTER XLIII. 165 

in Paris on my last visit to that city, and he died while I 
was there. He left directions in his will, that after death 
his head should be removed, and his skull added to his own 
collection \ and this was strictly complied with. As he took 
no fee for his instruction, I could not refuse him the favour 
of allowing him to take a cast of my head. This is done 
with living subjects in the same way as with the dead, and 
he did it so clumsily that I was very nearly suffocated. My 
cast must be still in his collection. This was no enviable 
position; for all the vices which according to this theory 
a man may have had, even if he has escaped from their 
influence, are, as often as he has the honour of being ex- 
hibited at a lecture, exposed in the clear and unequivocal 
expressions which Gall himself was accustomed to utter 
in his rough unpolished manner, as I have myself heard 
in a remarkable instance. He has not certainly spared 
me any more than others, and in this he was quite right, 
as I stood in no near connection to him. The fundamental 
error of Gaul's system is, that he did not sufficiently con- 
sider that all the moral and intellectual powers of men are 
in such intimate union, and form such a closely-connected 
whole, that they are hardly capable of that superficial par- 
celling out of the various organs which he has so arbitrarily 
fixed. In the true spiritual estimate of men, Lavater has 
displayed quite another head, and quite another mind. 

Farewell. I trust you are enjoying the spring. Be as- 
sured of my unalterable sympathy, H. 



166 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XLIV. 

TEGEL, June 14, 1833. 

I beg you will not distress yourself, dear Charlotte, 
when your letters are later than usual. You must write 
to me only when you feel both the power and the inclina- 
tion, and when communion with me will conduce to your 
cheerfulness. You have told me more than once, that in 
case of illness, if you could not communicate it to me your- 
self, which has never yet been the case, you have a means 
of conveying the intelligence. This will re-assure me if a 
letter should not arrive so punctually as is your wont. 

This letter of mine will be later too this time than I 
am accustomed to write to you ; but it is the consequence 
of accidental causes, not of my own mood of mind, which 
I strive to keep quite independent of all external contin- 
gencies. 

I was truly sorry to find from your letter that you had 
over-worked yourself and exhausted your strength, and 
you wished to be able to tell me that you were recruited. 
I speak, indeed, as you remark, of activity, and I especially 
honour yours ; but you must not over-task the measure of 
your strength. At the same time I am not inclined to at- 
tribute the weariness and weakness of which you complain 
entirely to your over- work : I think it probable that the 
influenza may have had some share in it. It has affected 
many here in a similar manner. This disease, now ascer- 
tained to be an epidemic, exhibits itself in two forms. In 
most cases it is accompanied by diarrhoea, has a short course 
more or less violent, and when it is subdued, it leaves be- 
hind a feeling of great weakness, and is often followed by 
other complaints, nervous fever, for example. Other in- 



LETTER XLIV. 167 

dividuals affected with the disease are not apparently ill, 
but feel a great heaviness and weariness in their limbs, as 
if they had had a severe illness ; and these latter do in fact 
endure more than the former, as their disease does not come 
to a crisis, and they often suffer for many weeks without 
any obvious amendment. This may have been the case with 
you, dear friend and then the effort to work has naturally 
increased the weakness remaining in the limbs, but with- 
out causing any decided complaint. The prevalence of this 
disease has been attributed by many to the great heat which 
occurred in May. But I earnestly request you not again to 
make such efforts. I know what you will object, as you have 
often objected before, that you must either quite give up 
your employment, which cannot be done, or you must 
answer its continual demands. I have always pictured to 
myself the occupations of females as being delightful, 
because, whilst they demand some degree of attention, they 
do not so far engross the mind as to preclude the indul- 
gence of thought, fancy, and reverie. It has appeared to 
me as if the lives of women were more interesting, and, if 
they possess mental endowments, more plastic, so to speak, 
than those of the other sex. Very many, nay most occupa- 
pations in which men engage give little or no employment 
to the mind, and yet do not permit the thoughts to turn to 
anything else. Thus the best faculties of the mind remain 
uncultivated, and when a time arrives in which the indi- 
vidual is overtaken by calamity, as I know from my own 
experience, the soul suffers a most distracting strain upon 
her powers. For minds of deep feeling cannot be diverted 
from the object of their suffering; on the contrary, it is 
by deliberately occupying themselves with that object that 
they regain their self-possession, and, with it, peace of mind. 
The proof of what I have said of the difference between the 
employments of men and of women, I found and still find 
in the daily observation, that mere men of business, to 
whom we can deny neither circumspection nor ability in 



168 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

their own way, yet become for the most part empty, stupid 
people : their wives, on the contrary, even under circum- 
stances in which household cares leave little or no time for 
female culture, nevertheless retain considerable mental ac- 
tivity. I have on this account often indulged myself in the 
merely mechanical work which sometimes falls in one's way, 
in order to be able to think of something else. But every 
one may not be so disposed, and I will not judge of others 
by myself. I always prefer meditation to reading, and 
sometimes have to set myself to the latter as to a trouble- 
some task. My mind does not dwell upon important cir- 
cumstances; I do not exactly dream, but I indulge in a 
mood which carries me away from the present, be it joyful 
or sad, and gives to the soul that calmness and equanimity 
which are so delightful. 

I go to Nordernei on the 2d of July, and I should like 
to receive a letter from you, dear Charlotte, before that 
time. I do not know whether I shall be able to write to 
you previously; I certainly must not promise it. It will 
be impossible for me to write during my journey, but I 
will do so immediately upon my arrival at Nordernei. 

With true and unchangeable attachment, yours, 

H. 



LETTER XLV. 169 



LETTER XLV. 

BERLIN, July 1, 1833. 

I go to-morrow, dear Charlotte, to Hamburgh, and my 
daughters accompany me, as they wish to use the salt-water 
baths. 

I thank you very much for your letter of the 19th, and 
rejoice to find from it that you are well again. I also am 
very well, except the trembling of my hand, which naturally 
increases as the effects of the last year's bathing wear off. 
I was surprised at your remarking that my writing appeared 
firmer: I feel myself that it becomes more unsteady. I write 
so very slowly, that I must limit the time devoted to that 
work ; indeed I have done so already. It would be a mis- 
employment of time, as long as I am capable of working 
with my head without my hands. 

Tell me whether Homoeopathy is practised in K. I do 
not pretend to be able to offer an opinion upon the subject, 
but I would never put myself under the treatment. The 
system appears to me to have so much exaggeration in it 
that it borders upon quackery. 

I cannot tell you when I shall write again. As writing 
fatigues me, and takes a great deal of time, I shall perhaps 
not be able to write very soon after my arrival; do not 
therefore be uneasy if you receive no letter. You cannot 
think how much it disturbs me to know that those who 
take an interest in me are anxious about me, even when 
there is some cause for such anxiety, which however is not 
the case at present. Composure, when there is real cause 
for disquietude, is a much nobler state of mind, and much 
more worthy of the profounder sentiments of our nature. 

VOL. II. Q 



170 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

But anxiety without any good cause is only a source of new 
disturbance, and that without any useful result. 

I wish you to write twice to me at Nordernei by Aurich, 
the first letter to arrive on the 20th of July and the 
second on the 15th of August. 

With heartfelt, unchangeable sympathy, yours, H. 



LETTER XLVI. 171 



LETTER XLVI. 

NORDERNEI, July 13, 1833. 

I arrived here yesterday at noon safe and well, dear 
Charlotte, and I send you the information because I know 
you will be interested in it. I am not particularly fatigued 
with the journey, although some days I travelled a long 
distance. But to-day, when I was bathing, I found that I 
was weaker than last year; I felt decidedly that I could 
not stand so firmly against the waves. The attendants 
attributed this to want of habit, but my own feelings do 
not deceive me, and time will exert its influence. 

I have not been in Hamburgh for nearly forty years, and 
I found greater prosperity and activity, and great improve- 
ments in every way. It is the same even with this little 
island. However the so-called great political matters may 
stand, individuals and their families go on in their usual 
way, strive to better their condition, to improve the means 
which time in increasing measure puts into their hands, 
and to increase those means that they may improve them- 
selves. This is a consoling reflection, and the grand 
course of human destiny goes on, much less dependent upon 
foreign will and chance than appears at first sight. 

In Hamburgh I sought out only my oldest acquaintance ; 
amongst others, one with whom, nearly thirty years since, 
I travelled through Spain. He was then a very young man, 
and is now surrounded by a group of blooming children. 
I looked with emotion upon Klopstock's grave. I never 
knew much of him. My feeling for him arises from the 
early perusal of his poems. One is accustomed now-a-days 
to see poetry of a much higher character, and it would 



172 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

be difficult to read much of Klopstock's continuously. A 
loftier and more poetical spirit has now been developed. 
But particular odes, like sounds from another age which 
had its own form of nobleness, possess a great charm. In 
the life of the man I have always been displeased that he 
made his second marriage so conspicuous, even in his epi- 
taph. When the first is a happy connection, I have always 
been against second marriages. According to the commonly- 
received ideas of morality, and even of religion, there is 
nothing to be said against them ; but a higher morality and 
genuine delicacy of feeling are opposed to them. A certain 
feeling of aversion to them seems almost universal ; for in 
the Greek church, where the priests are permitted to marry, 
second connections are forbidden to them. 

* * # # 

The beauty of the situation of Hamburgh has again 
taken me by surprise. The broad stream and the magni- 
ficent trees would in themselves be very attractive, even if 
the opulence and taste of the inhabitants had not trans- 
formed the environs into large beautiful gardens, rich in 
flowers and exotics. 

* * * * 

The year is now divided for me into two divisions different 
from those given in the calendar, namely, the two months 
which I spend from home, and the ten of peaceful undis- 
turbed residence in my own house. The latter are the only 
agreeable ones to me, and I welcome the day of my return 
to Tegel as the commencement of a new year. I sometimes 
smile at myself for so credulously sacrificing two months of 
the year. When one reflects upon it, one sees how doubt- 
ful is the benefit of such a journey, and that those who have 
not recourse to it are no worse. It can scarcely be decided 
whether the imagination has anything to do with it. I 
come here merely because my physician so wills it, and I 
make it a rule to follow him implicitly. He is responsible 
for his own recommendations, and my health is thus rather 



LETTER XLVI. 173 

his affair than mine. He must have his choice of every 
possible means. 

No doubt, when I reflect upon it, I cannot but acknow- 
ledge the advantage of my present residence, since it keeps 
me away from my books, and enforces more leisure for 
quiet meditation. I live entirely in my scientific pursuits 
and those remembrances which give a charm to my pre- 
sent life from the light thrown upon it from the past. 
If we trace ideas far enough, we find that their origin 
lies in the deepest, most purely human feelings. These 
pursuits require both meditation and research into books. 
Both go hand in hand, but it is a good thing sometimes to 
be forcibly taken away from our books, not for recreation 
or amusement, which are not required when a man is en- 
gaged in intellectual labours, but in order to pursue those 
labours uninterruptedly, with nothing external to distract 
his thoughts. In this I employ myself at my present re- 
sidence, and I require no companionship and feel no ennui 
or weariness. The sea with its uniform aspect, and even the 
barren strand, are agreeable additions. 

* # # * 

Five volumes of Goethe's Posthumous Works have re- 
cently appeared. One contains the continuation of his life 
under the old title, " Truth and Poetry." They were written 
in the years 1774 and 1775, and a pastor of the name of 
Ewald in Offenbach is frequently alluded to. There is 
nothing remarkable related of him : he was merely men- 
tioned by Goethe as belonging to the district in which he 
lived. Is this the same Ewald of whom you have often 
written to me ? I beg you will tell me this. Unchangeably 
yours, H. 



Q2 



174 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XLVII. 

NORDEKNEI, August 2, 1833. 

At the beginning of this month I completed the half of 
my prescribed course of bathing, dear friend, and you will 
be glad to hear that I have been able to pursue it uninter- 
ruptedly, and find myself, I thank God, very well. Months 
must elapse before the whole benefit shows itself, but, 
judging by the present effects, I trust it will not be less 
than last year. Here, notwithstanding my infirmities, I 
am considered strong, and in a certain measure I appear 
so to myself. No vigorous young man could bathe with 
more energy than I do. I never feel fatigued for a mo- 
ment after it. I never take anything strengthening, and 
when I am not out of doors, I employ myself with some 
interesting object. I do not think the weather has any 
influence upon me. This certainly shows strength ; and as 
I know you will be gratified with the information, I give it 
you. But the chief thing is, during the whole life, to inure 
the soul to bear every hardship. It is incredible how much 
strength the soul may lend to the body. This requires no 
great and heroic energy of mind. Internal concentration 
of spirit is sufficient to enable us to fear nothing, and to 
desire nothing which our own efforts cannot avert or ob- 
tain. In this lies a power difficult to be conceived. A man 
is not thereby sunk into phlegmatic repose, but may be 
excited by the deepest and most powerful feelings, the 
objects of which, however, do not belong to the external 
world, but are related to higher existences. He is not free 
from ardent desire ; on the contrary, is often affected by 
it. It is not that consuming desire which strives after 
outward advantages, but rather a lively perception of some- 



LETTER XLVII. 175 

thing better and more beautiful with which the soul has a 
near affinity. 

The weather has been very favourable for bathing since 
our arrival ; for it has been always windy and sometimes 
stormy, so the sea has been almost always high and rough, 
and these strong waves are considered very advantageous. 
When the sun is bright, as is often the case, the scene is 
really charming. There is seldom any heat to complain of. 
As the wind generally comes from the sea, it cools the air. 
In islands, particularly small ones, great extremes of heat 
are not of such frequent occurrence as extremes of cold. 
But this summer we have had very few hot days. My love 
of great heat does not arise, as you suppose, from my long 
residence in Spain and Italy. I remember having it from 
my early childhood. 

* # # # 

You are certainly right when you say that Madame de 
Stael and Madame de Laroche were severely treated in 
Goethe's Correspondence. This is Goethe's fault. In con- 
fidential correspondence, as in conversation, we may permit 
little jests which are not designed to wound, and which we 
know will be understood. But when private letters come be- 
fore the world, such passages should be omitted, and Goethe, 
who published these, has been very careless respecting them. 
Such slight defects may not be very prejudicial to a work that 
contains such a host of ingenious and new ideas, and bears 
upon it the lively impression of the interchange of thought 
of two noble minds ; for there are few works which afford 
more material for thought, and this, after all, is the only 
fit criterion of the value of a book. Goethe and Schiller 
could not do justice to De Stael, for they did not know her 
sufficiently. The spirit and sentiment of her nature did 
not display itself so much in her literary capacity as in her 
life, and on the side of character and feeling. In her these 
two elements were combined in a way peculiar to herself. 
Goethe and Schiller could not perceive this. They knew 



176 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

her only by particular conversations, and that but imper- 
fectly, as they could not speak French with fluency. These 
conversations fatigued them, for they were excited by them 
without being able to express themselves clearly in a foreign 
language, and thus she who occasioned such conversations 
became annoying to them. They knew nothing of the true 
inner being of the woman. What is said of her want 
of feminine delicacy arises from the trivial talk which is 
indulged in by both sexes respecting women whose being 
and nature range beyond the mental horizon of those who 
thus criticise them. To adhere steadfastly to the highest 
standard of criticism, is a quality too noble to be met with 
frequently. Certainly some distinguished women who knew 
De Stael have never blamed her for being unfeminine, and 
still less can her writings be considered in this light. 

I knew De Laroche also. She was amiable, and in her 
youth must have been beautiful ; but she was not remark- 
able for her mental endowments. Her writings, however, 
have not been without their influence upon the female 
education of her times, as you have more than once men- 
tioned her in your letters to me in terms of great affec- 
tion, and have attributed this praise to her. In so far 
she has done a service, the credit of which neither Goethe 
nor Schiller should have refused her. They thought only 
of her literary value, which certainly was not much. But 
we must not regard in a serious light all that they wrote in 
cheerful sportive mood. The periods of time to which such 
remembrances carry us back, lie in such far distance that 
the interest of them increases. More of the characteristics 
of remarkable people appear after a time. In our judg- 
ments respecting them we are influenced by the disposition 
they exhibited in life, but gradually another disposition ap- 
pears, till at length what is denominated posthumous fame 
is built up. Men become in a certain measure like phan- 
toms. Much which belongs to them disappears, and what 
remains assumes quite a different aspect. Therefore what 



LETTER XLVII. 177 

we know of them will be received according to the spirit of 
the existing time. So uncertain is the image which even 
the greatest men leave behind them in history. 
* * * * 

My course of bathing will be completed on the 21st of 
this month, and before the end of it I shall return to Tegel. 
I am quite well and much stronger, and shall feel the effects 
still more after a time. I tell you this, dear friend, because 
you have so often told me with affectionate sympathy that 
you look first for this intelligence in my letters. So it 
shall meet you at the close of this letter, and thus bring 
you sooner what I know gives you pleasure. I hope you 
will contrive that I shall find a letter from you at Berlin. 
With the deepest and most sincere sympathy, yours, 

H. 



178 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER XLVIII. 

TEGEL, Oct. 6. 1833. 

Receive my sincere thanks, dear Charlotte, for your kind 
letter, which I found here upon my return, and which con- 
tains so many expressions of attachment to myself. With 
respect to my health, I have only to repeat the few words 
with which I closed my last letter, that I feel much stronger 
since my bathing, and that my friends consider me better. 
I have not been much fatigued either with my long journey. 
The trembling of my hand has not left me, as you will per- 
ceive by my writing. Although you do not mention your 
own health, the tone of your letter shows me that you are 
well. You know the interest I take in this. No doubt 
you are enjoying in your garden this beautiful weather, by 
which the closing year seems determined to make us forget 
the frequent bad weather in the summer. It is remarkable 
how peculiarly fine the weather is now, as it was in the 
spring also. One can hardly expect in twenty years to see 
a spring so rich in blossom. The beauty of it beggars de- 
scription. Fine weather is not so gratefully received as its 
reverse is complained of. Men appear to think that if 
Heaven withholds from them every other gift, it is bound 
to secure to them this, the cheapest of all. How much fine 
weather costs the skies it is truly difficult to calculate. But 
in its effect on the mind, a really beautiful day is amongst 
the most precious gifts of Heaven. If we may consider a 
certain equanimity of temperament as the rule, bad weather 
never depresses me below that; a nature little susceptible 
of external impressions forbids it. But a beautiful day, or 
a bright starry night, elevates my feelings inexpressibly. 



LETTER XLVIII. 179 

It is possible, whilst cultivating the sense of enjoyment of 
the beautiful, to dull the susceptibility to unpleasant emo- 
tions. 

What you say of Herder and Goethe, and the different 
effects produced upon your mind by their respective wri- 
tings, has led me into various reflections. I conceive that, 
after much painful experience, and in a narrow, restricted 
position, you should not give yourself up to the enjoyment 
of a fascinating study, of whatever kind it may be, if by 
that means many of the depressing influences of life are 
rendered unbearable to you. I have been much affected by 
your remark, that you carefully avoid the remembrance of 
the opportunities afforded by your former position to gra- 
tify your inclinations in this respect. You add, that with 
so little leisure you cannot devote yourself to reading with- 
out planning it beforehand, and, with these feelings, Herder 
satisfies the deep requirements of your nature more than 
Goethe, with whose writings generally you are well acquaint- 
ed, and have made them the subject of your close study. 
This is all very natural, but it appears to me to be taking 
a somewhat partial view, when you say that Goethe has 
written for the happy alone, and cannot place himself in 
the position of the sad and joyless, as he has always been 
himself a spoiled child of fortune. We should never speak 
so decidedly respecting the feelings of another. Limit your 
observations to yourself and to those with whom you are 
thoroughly acquainted, and I shall fully agree with you. 
But what has struck me most in this part of your letter is ? 
that it clearly shows that there are two perfectly distinct 
ways of entering upon the study of a book : one with de- 
termined aim, and referring entirely to the reader; and 
another freer view, relating more to the author and his 
work. Every man, according to his variety of mood, is 
more inclined to the one way or the other; for they are not 
completely distinct. The one is employed when we require 
a book to elevate, enlighten, console, and instruct ; the other 



180 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

resembles a walk of pleasure in the open country : we seek 
and desire nothing determinate, we are interested in the 
work, we wish to see how a poetical invention is unfolded, 
or we desire to follow the course of an argument. In- 
struction, consolation, amusement, come in greater measure, 
but they are not sought; we are not transformed from a 
narrow frame of mind by a book, but the book has freely 
and uncalled-for caused a correspondence in our mind with 
itself. The judgment is in this way less shackled, and as it 
is independent of momentary impulse, more to be depended 
upon. An author must prefer to be so read and proved. 
Herder may calmly wait for criticism. His mind is one 
of the most beautifully-spiritual phenomena that has been 
produced in our time. His short lyrical pieces are full of 
deep meaning, and in the delicacy of the language and the 
charm of the imagery are loveliness itself. He knew how 
to clothe the spiritual, sometimes in a well-chosen image, 
sometimes with a judicious word, in a corporeal form, and 
still to pervade the sentient form with spiritual power. He 
delighted most in this union or blending of the sentient 
with the spiritual, whilst he sometimes, but rarely, became 
playful. One of his strongest characteristics was his delicate 
and truthful comprehension of the peculiarities of others. 
This is shown in his National Songs, and in his History of 
Mankind. I remember, for example, in the latter, his mas- 
terly delineation of the Arabians. In compass of mind and 
imagination, Herder was certainly inferior to Goethe and 
Schiller; but there was in him a blending of genius and fancy 
which enabled him to produce what could not be attained 
by either of the others. This peculiarity induced in him an 
amiable view of man, his fate and his destiny. As he was 
very well read, his philosophical ideas were thus made prac- 
tical, and he obtained a multitude of facts for his allegorical 
and historical productions. Considered as a whole, his was 
a marvellously organized nature. He was a philosopher, a 
poet, and a scholar, but truly great in none of these cha- 



LETTER XLVIII. 181 

racters. This did not arise from accidental causes, but from 
want of requisite exercise. If he had wished to excel in one 
of these departments, he would not have succeeded. His 
nature compelled in him a blending of all a true blending, 
in which each, without losing its own characteristics, is in 
accordance with the others ; and as poetical fancy was cer- 
tainly his predominant taste, so the combination, whilst it 
awakened the deepest emotions, gave a double attraction to 
himself. It results from this peculiarity that Herder's rea- 
soning and assertions are not always capable of the most 
satisfactory proof, so that one can hardly feel assured that 
he himself was quite convinced of their truth. Eloquence 
and imagination invest all things with an arbitrary and 
unanswerable appearance. He derived little from the outer 
world. His residence in Italy produced none of the rich 
fruits that Goethe's residence there did. Herder's sermons 
were remarkably attractive. They were always considered 
too short by the hearers, who would willingly have listened 
double the time. Those which I heard, however, did not 
appear to me to come home to the heart. 

If he knew now how much I have written about him in 
these little illegible letters, he would be surprised; and 
indeed I wonder at it myself. I do it only because I think 
it gives you pleasure. But tell me when you are no longer 
able to read my letters. I never write to please myself. 
With heartfelt sympathy, yours, H. 



VOL. II. 



182 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS, 



LETTER XLIX. 

TEGEL, Nov. 4 to 8, 1833. 

I thank you very much, dear Charlotte, for your letter 
of the 24th of last month, which would have given me still 
more pleasure had it not told me of the melancholy feelings 
under which you are suffering. You say that you can see 
no cause to which to attribute them. I can understand 
this perfectly well. As in external nature, so in our inner 
selves, it is sometimes serene, sometimes cloudy, without 
our being able to explain why it has so happened. There 
is in our souls a double sphere: one, where not merely 
all ideas, but all feelings, in clear, perfect consciousness of 
their connection, proceed from one another and flow into 
one another ; and the other, in which a darkness reigns from 
which only an individual occasionally emerges. This latter 
feeling we cannot extinguish or lull to sleep. Neither can 
we blame it; for the truest thoughts, the soundest deter- 
minations, the deepest feelings, often arise from it like sudden 
revelations. On the other hand, there is much in it wholly 
corporeal, and belonging to what we must get rid of, and 
should willingly do so if we could get rid of it alone. It is of 
this kind of feeling that I believe you complain. Little can 
be done against such a mood in minds even of the greatest 
acquired strength. We can indeed so far prevail against 
it as to think and work as if it did not exist; but we re- 
main sad, cheerfulness cannot be forced, and man has not 
much more power against the clouds which overhang the 
heaven of his mind than he has against the clouds of ex- 
ternal nature. In the meantime we must not remain quite 
inactive, but must labour on at our every-day duties, and 
be watchful over ourselves. 



LETTER XLIX. 183 

There is little to be done in that sphere where the con- 
sciousness is darkened. The other, accessible to clear ideas, 
and in connection with them, to recognised feelings, must 
and can in such moments of sadness be put into increased 
activity. This never fails to produce its end. A calm and 
peaceful collecting of the powers of the mind, with which 
we can meet our fate, always does good, and calls down 
upon us a higher invisible assistance, which appears only 
in that measure with which man himself strives to attain 
the desired end. 

* * * * 

The winter is showing itself, rather in roughness than in 
cold. I am well pleased with it. I always live much alone, 
in winter still more so; and this clinging to solitude, 
arising from a life absorbed by my own thoughts and re- 
collections, increases upon me every year. And it not only 
increases, but sheds a beneficent, truly blissful influence 
upon my mind. 

* * * * 

In Spain there is a mountain inhabited by hermits, Mont- 
serrat near Barcelona : I know not whether you have heard 
or read of it. I was there when in Spain, and I have some- 
where written a long description of it. These hermits are 
not priests, but people who have lived to a great old age in 
the world, and have often been occupied in important and 
responsible situations. The place is wonderfully beautiful 
like an island on the acclivity of the mountain, quite rocky, 
and entirely clothed with trees and brushwood. Innumer- 
able paths intersect the various ravines and heights. The 
mountain has one solitary isolated rock that towers above 
the rest like a forest of trees. This rock, seventy or eighty 
feet high, has no resemblance to the others, and it presents 
many remarkable appearances. From the summit of the 
mountain there is a very extensive prospect, as far as the 
sea-coast. There are twelve hermitages, some near, some 
distant from each other. By an almost childish freak, the 



184 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

communication between them has been rendered difficult. 
Two were situated in a large fissure in an entirely perpen- 
dicular precipice, which formed an extensive excavation. In 
this precipice the rock caused a natural partition, which 
divided the dwellings of two of the hermits. There was no 
door made in this, which might easily have been done, and 
so these old men for such I told you lived here though 
dwelling side by side, were obliged, when they wished to see 
each other, to climb a hundred steps, and then to descend 
as many. Much besides in the life and devotions of these 
hermits was quite as peculiar, but less interesting. Never- 
theless, this inclination, after an active and fully occupied 
life, to lead a calm existence, free from the things of the 
world, in the midst of God's works, on a spot distinguished 
by its beauty, appears to be the result of depth of feeling. 
This may not have been the case to the full extent with the 
residents here; but their position and the whole hermit 
mountain suggested the obvious idea that it might be so. 
If we recognise it somewhat as a human emotion, so it is 
a still more agreeable surprise to meet with an appearance 
in life with which we can connect a symbolical image. 
Fare you well. With earnest sympathy, yours, 

H. 

I wish most sincerely that this melancholy mood may 
speedily leave you, and that you will be able to write to me 
quite cheerfully. 



LETTER L. 185 



LETTER L. 

TEGEL, Nov. 16 to Dec. 7, 1833. 

I begin this letter, dear Charlotte, without having re- 
ceived one from you, but I feel certain that one will arrive 
in a few days. 

First, I must revert to a passage in your last letter which 
I inadvertently omitted to answer, and for which I thank 
you sincerely. It is what you say respecting the different 
kinds of books, and what we must expect to find in them. 
You refer to Goethe. You know I like the free expression 
of thought in friendly correspondence, when the meaning 
cannot be misunderstood. You have induced me to read 
again the beautiful passage in Goethe's " Truth and Poetry" 
on which you comment. But upon the whole this case 
agrees with the usual experience, that in the discussion of 
opposite sentiments one is rarely converted by the other. 
It has been my plan, and will continue to be so, to consider 
a book as well as an individual as being an object of itself, 
and not as bearing any especial relation to myself. I do 
not enter, therefore, as Goethe says, into a criticism of the 
book any more than I should into one of the man. But I 
consider it as a production of the human mind, which, 
without reference to my thoughts and feelings, expresses its 
own ideas and modes of feeling, and lays claim to my 
attention. I have no doubt that many readers apply it more 
to themselves and receive it less objectively, and if you ask 
me whether it would be unpleasant to an author to feel that 
he has imparted calmness or cheerfulness, has refreshed a 
weary spirit, or encouraged a depressed heart, I answer 
with perfect assurance that he is certainly satisfied with 
this, and feels rewarded even if this has not been distinctly 

2 R 



186 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

his aim. I only wished to tell you how I read books, not 
by any means to blame your manner of doing so. 

As we are speaking of books, I will mention one to which 
I have long wished to call your attention, and the contents 
and arrangement of which have occupied me for some time. 
It is a collection of sacred songs that has recently appeared. 
The collection has been made and published by our am- 
bassador at Rome. Bunsen, the editor, is a learned and 
very religious man. He has collected the songs from all 
ages, and has given the preference to the oldest, particularly 
those of Paul Gerhard. He has been governed by very 
correct feeling in his treatment of the songs. In general 
they remain unaltered, but in some cases, where they were 
unintelligible or might give offence, the alteration is slight 
and scarcely observable, and always retains the spirit of the 
original composer. If you pay attention to the choice of 
the songs, you will perceive what has constituted the 
editor's idea of a sacred song or hymn. It must treat in a 
manner so truly poetical the pious and edifying subject it 
refers to, that the poetical flight may aid the devotional 
feelings in their upward aspiration. Many indifferent hymns, 
and especially those by recent authors, merely bring for- 
ward in rhyme, pious thoughts that would be just as well 
expressed in prose. Songs of this character can awaken no 
warmth in the devotional feelings of the reader, as they do 
not owe their origin to such feelings in the writer. Songs 
like these are carefully excluded from this collection. As 
the editor has paid a great deal of attention to church 
music, he has considered how far some of these hymns are 
adapted for singing. But what gives the collection its 
peculiar value is, that the editor has throughout borne in 
mind the wants of a truly Christian devotional congrega- 
tion. He has particularly studied the popular taste, and 
has chosen the most intelligible, those that appeal to the 
deepest and most universal wants of the human heart, and 
inspire the greatest fervour of devotion. By a comparison 



LETTER L. 187 

of a great number of other books, he has endeavoured to 
ascertain which hymns have been most popular in Germany, 
and which have been introduced the most frequently into 
other collections. I have dwelt so long upon this subject 
because I felt sure you would be interested in it. You have 
often told me how much you value the old church service, 
particularly the hymns sung by the congregation; you have 
especially instanced Paul Gerhard's songs, and have called 
them immortal. So while I was reading these hymns I was 
thinking of your taste for sacred poetry. You are right; 
there is quite another spirit in the old songs than is to be 
found in the new ones ; they invigorate more by their perfect 
simplicity, and you will say that Bunsen deserves credit with 
many who will find pleasure in these hymns. They are 
followed by a collection of prayers. These, however, have 
not interested me so much. The difference lies in the nature 
of things. Prayer is the expression of the devotion of the 
individual ; but if the individual himself prays, he requires 
no formula; he pours forth his own self-chosen and con- 
nected thoughts before God, and scarcely requires words at 
all. Real inward devotion knows no prayer but that arising 
from the depths of its own feelings. 

When I compare the period of my childhood and youth 
with the present, I should say that a more religious spirit 
prevails now. I speak only of this neighbourhood, as I am 
not acquainted with the state of other parts of Germany in 
this respect. This has been in great measure the conse- 
quence of the last war. Yet we cannot say, and this is a 
more favourable view of the human mind, that misfortune 
alone has induced this, though it has certainly given greater 
earnestness to our devotional feeling. But the tendency to 
piety arises more from the success of our endeavours, as a 
sort of thanks for benefits received. It arises partly from 
the conviction carried to the heart with joyful wonder, that 
Providence alone can afford us strength and grant us pro- 
tection. 

* * * * 



188 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

It is asserted on all hands, as a state of things worthy of 
condemnation, that mankind have now a greater tendency 
to immorality than in past times. This assertion is ques- 
tionable, and I am inclined to doubt its truth. It appears 
to me to be more a perversity of opinion a distortion of 
ideas. Formerly there was a more wide-spread spirit of 
frivolity, and there is no doubt that frivolity undermines 
all morality, and leaves no deep thoughts nor pure earnest 
feeling. It may be united to a naturally amiable disposition, 
but in such a disposition nothing is done from principle, and 
there is no thought of self-sacrifice and the subduing of 
selfish considerations. An earnestness prevails now, which 
leads to reflection, and which in its reaction on the mind 
renders it capable of a strong exertion of the will, which 
remains in force even when the determination involves a 
sacrifice. 

* * * * 

The weather is mild for the season, but so much the 
more melancholy. I am so fortunate as not to be affected 
by the weather. I enjoy it when it is fine, and I am in- 
different about it when it is bad. But I feared that the 
tone of depression of which you complained lately might be 
attributable to the influence of this November sky. There 
are few who can bear to be obliged to 'deviate from their 
usual plans by the elements. Some are more affected by 
them than others. I once knew a lady who wrote many 
letters, and never forgot to mention what sort of weather it 
was when she wrote. Immediately after the date came the 
notice of the weather, and described pretty fully too. This 
became so completely her habit, that the letter in great 
measure took its tone from the prevailing skiey influences, 
so that her correspondent could judge from the commence- 
ment what sort of a letter it would be. A depressed state 
of mind like this, arising so completely from external causes, 
is removed naturally without the trouble of seeking for any 
means of distraction. It is otherwise with a melancholy 



LETTER L. 189 

produced by the influence of some abiding sorrow, which 
arises from a painful experience of the sufferings of life. 
This takes a deeper root, and is more difficult to remove. 
Such a tone of mind, however, carries within itself innu- 
merable sources by which it can again attain peace and 
tranquillity. It is built up in calm solitude, from the desire 
innate in the minds of men to be at one with a Higher 
Power guided by wisdom, and if there is something in the 
melancholy arising from no apparent cause to soothe the 
mind and to divert it from its sorrows, it is the consolation 
arising from this trust and the continued mental occupa- 
tion with the thoughts directed to heavenly things in a 
noble, enlightened spirit. 



December 4. 

I have now received your letter of November 24, and 
thank you sincerely for its whole contents. Maintain this 
calm, cheerful, contented frame of mind. A cheerfulness 
like that you speak of is a very precious gift of heaven or 
of fate, and, as you very justly observe, is the fruit of a na- 
tural simple disposition, easily satisfied. But even when it 
arises naturally in this way, it requires an effort to cultivate 
and cherish it, I do not mean by external means, but en- 
tirely by mental effort. It is so also with melancholy. A 
man who has lived an inner life, has formed for himself a 
host of convictions, feelings, hopes, and misgivings. These 
are his own and cannot be torn away from him. In these 
he can find his happiness, his peace, his cheerfulness ; these 
are secure to him, even if his frame of mind continue melan- 
choly; for every object of an exalted melancholy is readily 
associated with the circle of thoughts and feelings alluded to 
above. As soon as one can bring anything that engrosses the 
mind into the dominion of spiritual activity, it becomes 
milder, and blends itself in a conciliating manner with every 
peculiarity, so that even if it affects us painfully, we should 



190 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

be neither able nor willing to separate it from our natures. 
By spiritual activity I do not mean that of reason. This 
can bring to a mind of acute feeling only a dull, obstinate 
resignation, which is more like the repose of the grave than 
the cheerfulness of which I here speak. But pure spiritual ac- 
tivity has a much more extended influence, and blends with 
every emotion, even the highest of which man is susceptible, 
and in this blending consists the true means of obtaining 
real consoling peace. In it, thought loses its coldness, and 
emotion is raised to a height in which injurious, partial con- 
sideration of self and the present is lost. 

Fare you well. I will answer your last letter the next 
time I write. With the sincerest sympathy, yours, 

H. 



LETTER LI. 191 



LETTER LI. 

TEQEL, Dec. 20 1833, to Jan. 7, 1834. 

In less than a fortnight another year will have closed, 
and none has eveno appeared to me to pass away so rapidly, 
particularly the last four months. It seems as if I had but 
just returned from Nordernei, and yet as if I must soon go 
again into the waves of the North Sea. Perhaps it may be 
different with the six months which I am thankful to say 
have still to pass before that dreaded time ; for though I 
like the little island well when I am once from home, the 
disturbance of moving is very much against my inclination. 
I shall probably be deceived in my hope that the next 
months will appear to pass slowly. It is a characteristic of 
old age to find the progress of time accelerated. The less 
one accomplishes in a given time, the shorter does the re- 
trospect appear. 

I rejoice on your account, as well as on that of your 
friend, that she is about to travel into Italy. I know few 
greater enjoyments, and no pleasanter reminiscences, than 
those that are experienced after the return from a journey. 
The height of enjoyment would be for a man and his wife 
to take such a journey in all the freshness of youth, when 
nothing wearies. 

You ask me to recommend some book of travels in Italy, 
in which you may follow your friend in your thoughts. I 
am really at a loss what to mention to you, dear Charlotte. 
I should say first that there is not one by Schlegel, which 
would be indisputably the best. That of George Jacobi's 
tells little of importance. There are two kinds of books 
respecting Italy. One is descriptive a sort of guide 
through streets, churches, and galleries, only to be read 



192 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

when one stands before the objects, or to recall them after 
they have been seen. The perusal of such a book would be 
very tedious to one who had never been at the places de- 
scribed, and therefore I cannot recommend any of these 
works to you. The other kind is less a description of the 
country, than a delineation of the individual life of the 
author in the place visited. This is obviously the more in- 
teresting, only the traveller may mingle so much of him- 
self, that the reader learns little or nothing of the country. 
Of this species there is generally an abundance of Travels 
into Italy, as every one wishes to express his own emo- 
tions there. But who can read such a number? and how 
can one be chosen out of the multitude ? I recommend 
to you Stolberg's Travels, and Frederica Brun's last book 
on Italy. Stolberg, that is Frederick Leopold, was accom- 
panied by George Jacobi. In his book, which belongs ra- 
ther to the first than the last species of travels, he has 
made extracts from the old writers, without, however, being 
so tedious. He will be found more correct than many other 
writers of travels, especially among the French and English ; 
but even some Germans display great want of knowledge 
with superficial reasoning, or the expression of insipid feel- 
ing. The only reason why I hesitate in my recommenda- 
tion, is my doubt whether Stolberg's Travels extend over 
the whole of Italy, or only a part. 

No doubt you know Frederica Brun through her writings. 
Her maiden-name was Miinter. She lives in Copenhagen, 
and must now be advanced in years. Her book has no 
great depth, but it is lightly and agreeably written. She 
resided for a long time in Rome while I was there, and the 
book of which I speak refers to this residence. But I re- 
peat it, it is very difficult almost impossible to write 
anything concerning Italy which will convey to the reader 
the emotions of the traveller, if he is a traveller of the 
right sort, that is to say. It is not that he experiences 
anything remarkable and indescribable, but rather that the 



LETTER LI. 193 

enjoyments are so simple that it is difficult to say anything 
new about them. This arises from the accumulation of im- 
pressions, which renders it impossible to give an account of 
them. Most writers of travels devote their chief attention 
to the description of buildings and antiquities, and so run 
the risk of repeating what has been said times innumerable. 

* * * # 

It is very kind of you, dear Charlotte, to say that you 
would rather go without my letters than expect them from 
me in the present state of my eyes and hand. I acknow- 
ledge this with the more gratitude that I know what my 
letters are to you, and that you find in them much more 
than they really contain. I feel also that your loneliness 
makes them more valuable to you, as it is not easy to 
bear entire solitude. I can fully believe that the cessation 
of my letters would cause a decided void in your daily life. 
I know also how to estimate fully the passage which your 
last letter contains. At present, however, I see no necessity 
for making any alteration. If nothing unexpected occurs to 
me, a complete cessation of my letters is certainly not ne- 
cessary. The infirmities that make writing difficult are of 
that sort which increase gradually, at least at present. The 
consequence will be, that I shall write shorter letters, and it 
will be a satisfaction to me to think that the reading of them 
will not be such a long piece of work for you. Have perfect 
confidence that I will not over-exert my strength. I am 
naturally, and from early habit, active, and my patience is 
not easily exhausted. I am not soon conquered by diffi- 
culties, and I do not readily give up my purpose. In order 
to acquire this firmness, I accustomed myself, even from 
childhood, to do things which required a bodily effort, and 
have never tried to avoid pain and difficulty from any feeling 
of effeminacy. I am thankful that such has been my dis- 
position ; for if self-renunciation and strength of will do not 
belong to the highest class of virtues, they may certainly 
rank amongst the most useful, though they cannot make one 

VOL. II. S 



194 

quite independent of the shifting scenes of fortune. Man 
cannot in this life attain to a state of perfect independence; 
he must look upon it as a great privilege granted by Pro- 
vidence, that even a certain degree of this feeling of inde- 
pendence which he struggles after is in his own power, and 
that he alone is in a position to attain it, since it is in his 
own soul. But if he proceed boldly and fearlessly in the 
determination to allow no external influences to have power 
over him, he attains much, and can anticipate most of the 
difficulties that await him in life. In old age I can say with 
truth, that I do not seek to make life easy and pleasant, if 
I may except the single point of my indulgence in solitude ; 
for I have now quite given up visiting, even at the few 
places I frequented last winter. 



January 4, 1834. 

This is the first time I have written the new date. I 
I never thought that I should have written so many, and 
even now, when I look upon life as almost ended, I have no 
presentiment arising either from the state of my bodily 
health or from any inward misgiving, that I shall not write 
the dates of many new years. I do not say this merely in 
order to give you pleasure, willing as I ever am to do so, 
but because I really feel it. Notwithstanding the extra- 
ordinary weather, my health, except my few infirmities, 
does not give me any cause of complaint. 

The interchange of ideas of which you speak in your 
letter is very beautiful, but the taste for it is past with me. 
The presence of another disturbs my solitude, that is to 
say, in the strictest sense, myself. It easily annoys me, and 
may become even tormenting. I avoid as much as possible 
the visits of even my oldest friends and acquaintances, al- 
though I thus run the risk of appearing rude and uncour- 
teous ; but there are some sacrifices which it would be wrong 
to inflict upon one's self. Most of my friends, however, are 
discreet, and permit me the pleasure of being alone. 



LETTER LI. 195 

I have been much interested with what you say of Paul 
Gerhard, and I shall reperuse the songs you point out. 
His adventures were not unknown to me, but I had never 
thought of them in reference to his compositions, which 
give the more interest to them. 

I now close my letter with hearty good wishes for you in 
the new year. May it keep you free from harassing events, 
and maintain you in health and the calm cheerfulness which 
brings happiness with it ! 

With the sincerest sympathy, yours, H. 



196 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER LII. 

TEGEL, January 12, 1834. 

You refer again in your last letter to Paul Gerhard's 
Hymns, which you say are such favourites that you know 
most of them by heart that you call them immortal, and 
have often derived consolation from them. I am not sur- 
prised to hear this from you ; but it pleases me very much, 
and I quite agree with you that the old hymns are much 
more vigorous than the newer ones. You may be right 
also in thinking that but few ambassadors to Rome would 
occupy themselves with a new edition of a book of hymns. 
It does Bunsen great honour. I do not remember the pas- 
sage in which Herder says " that if one had no other book, 
one might live with a Bible and hymn-book." (Tell me the 
volume and place.) For the multitude it would certainly 
be amply sufficient. I am entirely of your opinion respect- 
ing the Bible. I should consider the hymn-book merely as 
an addition. What is to make up for all else must not 
proceed from an individual author, well known and near 
ourselves : it must resound in our ears from distant ages as 
the voice of all mankind, in which even the voice of God 
himself is revealed. One whose spirit was sufficiently sim- 
ple and child-like to enter into the feelings of earlier ages, 
might go into solitude with Homer for his sole companion. 
Man cannot sufficiently wonder, or be thankful enough to 
Providence, that from time to time He awakens in the 
spirits of a whole people or of individuals those truly god- 
like thoughts on which our inner being reposes. 

You remark that you have certainly read good books, 
but a smaller number than might be supposed j that they 
are quite of a different character from the modern litera- 



LETTER LII. 197 

ture, and you almost complain that you can read but little, 
and if now and then your inclination tends to the latter, you 
always turn again to your old friends. For myself, I assure 
you that I could very easily live without books. I have 
not a real taste for reading, and for one occupied during a 
long life in such varied scientific pursuits, I have read but 
little. I know the names only of a number of books which 
were read long ago by others, and I may be surrounded by 
books, and know that there are new ones amongst them, 
and yet never open one. This slight power of attraction 
for me in books almost as it were a sort of disgust is 
not a feeling recently experienced, but existed when I was 
very young. I lived very much with books day and night, 
but always with the aim of learning something definite 
from them of searching out and investigating. This is 
different from the desire for reading, almost amounting to 
a passion, which exists in the minds of some men, arising 
from a vivacity which I never possessed from a feeling of 
the want of the material of thought, which is really con- 
nected with a desire to attain this material in great variety 
from without, instead of gaining it in more uniformity from 
the mind itself. At the same time this taste is not to be 
despised. The want of this external vivacity, the depend- 
ence upon individual thought, the self-occupation, are not 
always signs of the genuine ore without dross. For these 
feelings often arise from apathy an inclination to idleness, 
and produce lazy dreaming rather than profitable medita- 
tion. There is a sweetness, however, in this state, that I 
can compare to nothing: one may now lose one's self in 
ideas, now recal remembrances of the past. The pursuit of 
a train of ideas when in this state of reverie is easier and 
less fatiguing than speaking or writing: one only thinks 
for himself, and can pass over intermediate reasoning and 
reach the end sooner; it is scarcely, however, so accurately 
reached when no other is present to urge one on. But where 
truth rests upon feelings, these are shut up in one's own 

S2 



198 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

bosom. Therefore all religious men are inclined to solitude. 
Thoughts of the past are clothed in such a sweet, soft twi- 
light, that time, thus lived over again, penetrates deeper 
into the soul than was permitted by the confusion of the 
present ; for the present is always blended with the future, 
and the emotions of the future are liable to change. En- 
joyment also, like pain, puts the mind into a state of ten- 
sion not favourable to the calm consideration of the subject. 
If this pleasure, in the indulgence of certain thoughts that 
exert a wonted charm over the soul, is opposed to the 
indefinite enjoyment of glancing over a book, my choice 
would not remain long undetermined, and I could spend 
a great part of my time without books. 

You remark that we often hear the question " What 
is happiness?" If by happiness is meant, whether man is 
happy or unhappy in his deepest emotions, and not merely 
in reference to the events of his life, the word is indeed 
difficult to define. For he may have many and heavy sor- 
rows, and yet not feel unhappy ; nay more, he may find in 
this very sorrow such elevating food for his mind and heart 
that he would not exchange his feelings for any other. On 
the contrary, he may be in possession of all that can yield 
enjoyment may suffer scarcely any deprivation and yet, 
in respect of happiness, feel an intolerable void. A due 
exercise of the mind and feelings is also necessary for hap- 
piness, varying, no doubt, according to the proportion of 
these in each individual, but so that every felt want may 
be supplied. The nature of this exercise, or rather of this 
interest in spiritual things, takes its direction according to 
the individual aim which each gives to his life, or rather 
which he finds placed in himself; so happiness or misery 
lies in the success or failure in the attainment of this aim. 
I have always found that feminine natures enter more easily 
into this feeling than those of men, and in this way they 
form for themselves a calm happiness in a joyless or even 
a sorrowful position. This view is full of interest respect- 



LETTER LII. 199 

ing a future state of existence. For the attainment of any 
other state can only be derived from one already fulfilled ; 
one can only attain that for which one is prepared, and 
there can be no sudden impulse given to the development 
of mind and character. 



February 4. 

I received your letter finished the 24th of January at 
the usual time, and I thank you sincerely for it. It has 
given me very great pleasure to observe the peaceful and 
even cheerful tone in which you have written, and still more 
to know that you attribute this to my letters. I wrote 
you the exact truth. As long as I can write to you with- 
out injury to my eyes, I will do so, even if my letters are 
shorter. But I am sure you will be composed and cheer- 
ful if I should be obliged to give it up. It is worthy of a 
human being to take calmly all that happens in the course 
of Nature. This has ever been with me an object for my 
efforts, and I may say that I have attained it in no slight 
degree. But I wish to find the same in others, particularly 
in reference to myself. Nothing affects me in such an 
unpleasant and unprofitable way, as to perceive that any 
one is anxious about me, or loses his self-possession on my 
account. Peace and composure in every lot a state either 
of cheerfulness or melancholy, will make life endurable, and 
raise the soul above the vicissitudes of time. 

Fare you well. With sincerest sympathy, yours, 

H. 



200 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER MIL 

TEGEL, February 1834. 

My feelings respecting February are remarkable. On 
the one hand, I prefer it to any other month in the year; 
on the other, it is the most unpleasant. I cannot account 
for my preference, but my disinclination to it is founded 
upon its own nature, and has been experienced by me since 
I was a child. Although it is only a few days shorter than 
the other months, it makes time appear to pass still more 
rapidly. I dislike too the irregularity in leap year. You 
will think this very childish, dear Charlotte, and will wonder 
at my wasting my time about it. I will do so no longer : 
the date reminded me of it. 

Speaking of time, it occurs to me that we have never 
alluded in our correspondence to Halley's great Comet, 
which will return in the autumn of next year. It is now 
calculated upon with certainty. It will appear, no doubt ; 
but a question occurs, Will the tail be as long? At the 
last appearance, a diminution of the length of the tail was 
remarked, and it seems very possible that these extraor- 
dinary bodies lose some of the less dense portions of their 
substance during their course. For their structure has so 
little solidity, that with powerful telescopes fixed stars have 
been clearly discerned not only through the tail, but also 
through the head of the comet. This event in the heavens 
appears to be so near also, that every one is disposed to ask 
himself whether he shall live to see it; and although I 
should not lament much if it were never seen by me, yet 
my curiosity has been not a little excited on the subject. 
The heavenly bodies which appear after a longer or shorter 
interval give a very sensible idea of the incomprehensible- 



LETTER LIII. 201 

ness of the whole creation. We feel intuitively that there 
must be causes, of whose nature we can have no conception, 
which guide those immense bodies in their rapid courses 
through distant space. To none of these questions can a 
satisfactory answer be given : we can only indulge the hope 
that our condition after death may enable us to solve them ; 
and thus our interest in the solution of the problem be- 
comes a spiritual one. 



\5th. I remember that not long since we mentioned 
in our letters a lady long since dead, whom Goethe had 
wished to marry, and to whom he gave the name of Lili 
in his poems. We could not then recal her name : it was 
Schonemann. Her husband was Herr von Tiirkheim. He 
loved her during her acquaintance with Goethe, and long 
doubted his own success. This was related to me lately by 
a friend of both. 

Within these few days Berlin has suffered a loss in the 
death of one distinguished alike in religion and philosophy. 
Schleiermacher, after a short illnes, died of inflammation of 
the lungs. He must be known to you as the author of 
many moral and religious writings. Respecting Schleier- 
macher it was true, in a remarkable degree, what is the case 
with most great men, that their speeches surpassed their 
writings. One who has only read his innumerable published 
works, and yet has never heard his spoken eloquence, must 
be unacquainted with the rarest talent and most remarkable 
characteristic of the man. His strength lay in his power 
of bringing his words home to the heart both in preaching 
and in his other clerical duties. It would be wrong to call it 
elocution, for he was certainly free from all art. His was 
the convincing, impressive pouring forth of feeling, not 
so much enlightened by such a spirit as is rarely met with, 
as being in perfect unison and sympathy with it. Schleier- 
macher possessed naturally a child-like, simple, trusting 



202 

disposition; his faith sprang from his heart. But besides 
this he had a decided tendency to speculation. He united, 
with equal satisfaction to others and happiness to himself, a 
philosophical and theological professorship in the University 
of Berlin, and his Ethics, a strictly philosophical work, is 
closely connected with his ideas on the subject of divinity. 
Speculation and belief frequently appear hostile ; but it was 
peculiar to this man to unite them intimately without any 
prejudice to the freedom and depth of the one, or to the 
simplicity of the other. He has left the last witness of this 
in an expression he made use of on the day of his death. 
He told his wife, a woman of remarkable intellect, that his 
sense of all external things became dull, but that his ideas 
remained perfectly clear, and that he especially rejoiced to 
find his deepest speculations in complete unison with his 
belief. In this beautiful spirit of harmony he expired. 
With sincere sympathy, yours, H. 



LETTER LIV. 203 



LETTER LIV. 

TEGEL, March 14 to April 4, 1834. 

I am very glad that Stolberg's Travels in Italy have 
given you pleasure. I thought myself that his thorough 
examination of every subject on which others have expressed 
any doubt, would make the work interesting to you. I al- 
ways believed that Stolberg's conversion to Catholicism was 
the consequence of his residence in Munster, where there 
are many very zealous catholics of both sexes, possessing 
also great intellectual power. It is at the same time very 
possible that the journey into Italy may have contributed 
to the change. The splendour and pomp of the churches 
may well incline an earnest mind to another faith, and 
undoubtedly in all this there is much that is very delight- 
ful, and at some moments exciting, to a disposition easily 
affected by impressions, quite independently of any belief in 
the doctrines of Catholicism. It has always appeared to me 
likewise that the prevailing custom in most catholic coun- 
tries of having the churches open the whole day, must have a 
powerful influence. The most obscure of the people has here 
a place where, undisturbed, he may sit alone in the in- 
dulgence of his thoughts and feelings, and, though near a 
home crowded with every earthly misery, find for himself 
an asylum from all his woe, in which every lofty and noble 
aspiration is cherished. The careful seclusion of our Pro- 
testant churches has, however unwillingly we may admit it, 
something sad in it, and prevents any general enjoyment of 
what ornament and decoration they may at present contain. 
It is only by a special unlocking by the sexton summoned 
for the purpose that they can be seen. In every country 



204 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

the mass of the people take a real and hearty interest in these 
things, and it would be a great mistake to believe that they 
are indifferent to them. 

I have been much interested in what you say of Paul 
Gerhard's Hymns. I can readily conceive that a mind 
which had suffered under repeated painful occurrences might 
derive comfort and consolation from them. I shall read 
again the hymns you point out to me, and according to 
your request I will endeavour not to be annoyed at any 
old-fashioned or even offensive expression, but will look,, 
like you, to the spirit of them, which is always elevating. 
Perhaps Bunsen has amended that defect. They must ever 
be poetical. This does not necessarily depend upon the 
construction least of all indeed; it is derived from the 
aspiration and the depth; and the sense of this is often 
found more pure in the multitude than amongst the class 
of cultivated but not thoroughly cultivated persons. It 
does not appear to me that the authors of the old church- 
services studied sufficiently the ideas and language of the 
country people in order to be intelligible to them and to 
elevate their feelings. What wants taste to us does not 
appear so to them. This naturally arose from the state of 
the times, when the true German cultivation of a more 
refined nature scarcely existed, and the educated classes, 
in so far as their refinement was not foreign or acquired, 
were in fact le&s separated from the people than now. Those 
old church poets, and particularly Paul Gerhard, in whom 
the passages which displease us are only slight blemishes, 
understood far better how to interest the people and at 
the same time elevate their feelings, without lowering their 
own ideas, giving up their opinions, or using any unworthy 
expression. This genuine popularity is an essential re- 
quisite of good, appropriate, sacred poetry. For the church 
is for all: there should be no distinction of rank or of 
cultivation, yet the really cultivated man should be repelled 
by nothing painful to him. Both these objects may be 



LETTER LIV. 205 

attained without the one prejudicing the other. For every- 
thing pure and really human free from all artificiality 
and show of erudition in matters of knowledge, and from all 
over-indulgence and exaggeration in matters of feeling 
belongs to the people, and especially to the country people, 
whom I should trust more than the inhabitants of towns, 
not merely in respect to their knowledge but their feelings. 
And this deep genuine human feeling is the groundwork of 
all real refinement. In this expression of human thought and 
feeling, all classes of the nation, at least in Germany, sym- 
pathize. So they prefer a simple, clear language, like that 
in Luther's translation of the Bible, which never becomes 
vulgar, and yet except the passages in which the obscurity 
lies in the sense and the things is equally intelligible to 
all. The safest way, in hymns for the church, is to follow 
scriptural expressions closely, and also to present some more 
difficult succession of ideas to the minds of the people. If 
a preacher, as is frequently the case, is mentioned with 
commendation as being instructive and edifying to the cul- 
tivated classes, I consider this very partial praise ; and if 
he does not understand how to interest the masses of the 
people, it is a great reproach. The church is for all, and 
the truths of religion will naturally be received more agree- 
ably and universally if they are addressed to the under- 
standings of all. The partition wall which divides the 
educated classes from the more illiterate is already too 
high: it requires double care to maintain the important 
ties which yet bind them together. 

Farewell, and be ever assured of my unalterable sympa- 
thy in whatever concerns you. Yours, H. 



VOL. II. 



206 W. VON HUMBOLDT ; S LETTERS. 



LETTER LV. 

TEGEL, April 15 to May 8, 1834. 

You have remarked, dear Charlotte, that in my last 
two letters my handwriting has been larger, clearer, and 
more distinct, and I see that you have been surprised at 
the change.* It is a victory which at length by firm de- 
termination my will has gained over my hand. In respect 
to the inconvenience of not being able to write myself, but 
being compelled to dictate everything, this improvement 
does not relieve me from that fear, as the new method is 
rather more tedious than the old one. In the meantime it 
is a decided gain, as it is much plainer, and gives no trouble 
in reading, whereas my former writing was illegible to a 
painful degree. In old age a man returns to the hand- 
writing of a child. 

There is an important but doubtful point respecting old 
age, at least it is doubtful to my mind, whether in- 
creasing years bring a gradual weakening of the mind or 
character, or of both, almost unmarked in its progress. A 
thoughtful man, who reflects a good deal upon himself, 
must acknowledge that it can scarcely be otherwise. Every- 
thing wears out in time, and added to this is the close 
dependence of the soul upon the body. Sometimes one is 
surprised at giving a proof of this in one's self. But there 
is a painful thought, whether this decline is not of much 
more frequent occurrence than is generally admitted. A 
man justly distrusts his own judgment on this subject, as 
his powers of discernment must have suffered in the general 

* This sudden change from painful indistinctness to large firm 
writing, was surprising and very affecting. Ed. 



LETTER LV. 207 

decay, and the truth on such a point can never be learnt 
from another. It is generally asserted that the memory 
suffers most. I do not experience this myself, nor should I 
in the least complain, unless it were a very serious loss. 
Worse, and at the same time more difficult to detect, is the 
want of decision, the difficulty of extricating one's self 
from a doubt, and pronouncing a decided judgment. This 
irresolution affects every subject of thought, for all spiritual 
things in the soul of man are indissolubly united together. 
The worst thing is the check to the copiousness of ideas. 
This naturally depends upon the strength, activity, and 
vigour of all the powers of the mind, and it is natural that 
the number of added years should exercise a marked influ- 
ence upon these. Already the dulling of the senses destroys 
much. All ideas, formerly accumulated, which depend upon 
perception, lose in clearness and distinctness, and especially 
in a quick intuition. But what I regret the most is a 
sort of lulling of the soul, by which it goes on in its long- 
accustomed track, and deems itself the while in a state of 
activity. The awakening of the spirit, its richness of con- 
ception, which it sometimes derives from reflection on men 
and things, and sometimes creates from within, or the 
determined progress in a succession of ideas long since 
entered upon and perhaps occupying an important portion 
of the life, is to the human being what truly invests life 
with a charm and a value, and this not merely to intellec- 
tually-organized, highly-cultivated, thoughtful men, but to 
all. For every one has an inner sphere of ideas and feelings, 
truths and opinions, fancies and dreams, in which active 
and awake he will abide, and which he will devise as em- 
ployment for his mental powers. However little spiritual a 
man may be, he fears no reproach so much as that of being 
weak-minded. One is perhaps safe from the complete de- 
cline of the powers without a very serious illness; but a 
slight weakness is annoying enough, and one is the more 
uneasy, as it may readily remain long unnoticed. 



208 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

I received your last letter later than usual, and I was 
grieved to find from it that you were again in a depressed 
state. You say yourself that time will cure it, but life is 
too short to be deprived of whole weeks in this way. You 
were also, to my great joy, for a long time cheerful and 
happy. Be so again, I conjure you. We may do much if 
we trust ourselves. Moods of mind no doubt arise, from 
causes over which man has little control, but they become 
more and more destructive to peace of mind if they are left 
to themselves. The surest way is to excite other feelings 
in opposition, and you know from your own frequent ex- 
perience that the feelings may be so acted upon by exalted 
and noble objects, that every dark and gloomy tendency is 
charmed away. 

With the most friendly sympathy, yours, H. 



LETTER LVI. 209 



LETTER LVI. 

TEQEL, May 16, 1834. 

I thought, dear Charlotte, that you must be better in 
this lovely spring weather. The foliage, which at first was 
unusually late, has burst forth suddenly with the warmth 
and the refreshing rain, and the mild fragrant air tempts 
one to remain out till late evening. Writing and reading 
are easily accomplished out of doors, but I never liked to 
do so myself. Whenever I have tried it, it appeared to me 
as if the air drove thought away, and disturbed my work ; 
and I scarcely like even an open window in my study. A 
walk, on the contrary, encourages the flow of ideas, and 
renders them more prolific. It is the best preparation for 
work, and besides that, secures the freest and most undis- 
turbed enjoyment of one's own thoughts, remembrances, 
and emotions. I prefer walking alone, and do not like any 
companions to interfere with my solitude in the midst of 
Nature. 

* # * * 

The words of Paul which you quote in your letter " If 
we had hope in this world only, we should be of all men 
most miserable," have certainly a deep truth and an im- 
pressive meaning. They express in the shortest and simplest 
manner the immortal destiny of man ; since for every high, 
noble, and truly worthy feeling of man, we trace an origin 
that is not of this world. Every improvement of our nature 
arises from the conviction that our being will continue 
beyond the confines of the present life. This gives to man 
the feeling which reflection always suggests, that the 
world which surrounds him, in which he labours and enjoys, 

T2 



210 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

is not sufficient for him, and that his hopes and his longings 
lead him to another, unknown and only anticipated. In 
the various relations in which each stands to the other, lies 
the principal difference in the individuality of men. This 
gives the original direction to the character out of which all 
else is developed. One entirely involved in earthly affairs, 
without a thought of a higher world, must in truth be 
poor. He will be deprived of the best and highest inward 
satisfaction, and while he remains in this disposition he can 
attain to no real advancement of his moral being. But there 
is also a certain scorn of this world and a mistaken devotion 
to the future life, which, even when it does not lead to the 
neglect of duty here, prevents the soul from enjoying aright 
the earthly blessings of Providence. A truly noble dis- 
position avoids both these extremes. It dwells upon the 
innumerable traces of the Deity scattered throughout the 
whole creation with such wise arrangement and benevolent 
care. In this disposition are united the purest emotions of 
the heart with the human relations, to which without im- 
piety and in a worthy manner we may devote ourselves. 
Man endeavours to engraft the heavenly upon the earthly, 
that he may elevate himself to the former in all its purity. 
In this sense we live in this world for one another, for 
the earthly is merely the external clothing of the divine 
thought. This alone is his own, and not hidden deep 
within him, but shining brightly and clearly. In this view, 
the soul is easily separated from and raised above earthly 
considerations : faith dwells upon immortality and an ex- 
istence beyond the grave. This faith exists, in a mind 
that in a just sense does not live for this world alone, not 
merely as hope or eager desire, but rather as a certainty, 
closely connected with its own self-consciousness. If we 
were not endowed with this almost certainty here, we should 
indeed be sunk in misery; there would be no compensation 
for earthly sorrow, and, what would be still more deplorable, 
the most important problems would remain unsolved, and 



LETTER LVI. 



our whole being would be deprived of that which impresses 
the seal upon its perfection. 



July 18. 

You allude in your last letter to the annoyances attend- 
ant upon old age. They are certainly very great, with the 
exception of a few cases where the powers remain in full 
vigour till late in life. The most oppressive to me is the 
check given to activity by the dulling of the faculties. Then 
there is the helplessness which makes many things difficult 
and some impossible. If the choice were given, to receive 
help or to do things slowly and awkwardly, I should choose 
the latter; for to me the feeling of dependence upon the 
assistance of others is a very painful one. But whilst I ad- 
mit all the inconveniences, which may grow to real suffering, 
and experience a large share of them myself, I cannot com- 
plain of old age. It is a part of the destiny of human life 
to experience such a decline of the powers, and the contem- 
plation of our existence as a whole, when perfectly developed, 
has something in it soothing, as it presents Man in harmony 
with Nature. The inward disposition varies so much, that 
external annoyances are more easily borne. One is more 
patient, feeling that no complaint respecting the course of 
Nature is befitting, and the feeling is so much the stronger, 
that by a calm equanimity of feeling a milder radiance is 
thrown over all external objects. There is certainly one 
advantage in old age, that it deprives the things of this 
world of their material harshness and severity, and places 
them more in the inner light of thought, whence one sur- 
veys them as a great and tranquillizing whole. 



July 28. 

I received yesterday your letter of the 22d, and I thank 
you, dear Charlotte, most sincerely, for the warm interest 



212 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

you take in my health. You will find that I have already 
given you full intelligence respecting what you prize so 
much. 

Farewell. With sincerest sympathy, yours, 

H. 



LETTER LVII. 213 



LETTER LVII. 

TEQEL, Aug. and Sept. 1834. 

I feared, dear Charlotte, that you would suffer from the 
great heat, which always affects you. It was, and indeed 
still is, most extraordinary, and appears like the sultriness 
preceding thunder. If there was to be a hot season, it is 
well it should be this rather than next year, for then such 
remarkable weather would inevitably have been attributed 
to the expected comet, and in this way the erroneous ideas 
regarding these heavenly bodies would have gained strength. 
I can bear the heat very well myself; the oppressive feel- 
ing may be relieved by keeping the room cool, and wearing 
lighter clothing. But an uninterrupted drought accompa- 
nies the heat this year, and it is always melancholy to see 
the fading of the plants and the shrivelling of the leaves. 
We have reason to suppose that everything is ordered for 
the best in this world, as is really the case, and this puts a 
stop to that short-sighted censure which no man of sense 
can indulge in. 

It is a striking phenomenon in the arrangements of the 
world, that the whole animated creation, from plants up 
to man, appear subordinate to the rude wild elements, and 
dependent upon them. It is as if Nature intended to assert 
her right over all corporeal and material conditions, before 
taking into consideration the prosperity and happiness of the 
sentient being. It is as in household life, where not merely 
the higher spiritual occupation must often give way to the 
common every-day work, but where activity in business 
stands higher in the estimation of men, than a devotion to 
science or to meditation. In both, the meaning is apparent, 
that the ground must be prepared through the bodily ex- 



214 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

ternal conditions, before the spiritual and inward can find 
a place and disclose its blossoms without danger. This is 
very intelligible in all things arranged by men, and bearing 
the trace of incompleteness. Human wisdom and strength 
do not attain to the principal aim without some sacrifice of 
the better feelings. Such a mode of interpretation is not 
permissible in the arrangements of the highest wisdom and 
power. What is said of such a disregard of spiritual in 
contrast to the corporeal, if we may so call it, is not satis- 
factory. There must be something we cannot understand, 
that lies perhaps in some unknown relation of the spiritual 
to the corporeal nature. For if we know but little with 
certainty of the spirit or the soul, the real nature of the 
body (the material part) is quite unknown and incompre- 
hensible. 

I hope you will be better when the temperature is cooler. 
With unchangeable sympathy in all that concerns you, 
yours, H. 

26th. I have to-day received your letter of September 
18, and can only add this postscript to mine. It grieves me 
to know, dear Charlotte, that you are not only depressed 
and out of spirits, but also, as I feared, that you have been 
ill and have concealed it from me. Be always candid, and 
do not despise my sincere sympathy, which is ever friendly 
to you. I earnestly request this. 

I must conclude to-day, but I will write soon again. 
Farewell. Dismiss sad thoughts. 



LETTER LVIII. 215 



LETTER LVIII. 

TEGEL, Sept. and Oct. 1834. 

I am glad on your account, dear Charlotte, of the cooler 
weather. I hope soon to receive more cheerful intelligence 
of your health. The cold bath, which I use in the morning, 
appears formidable to you, but it is not so bad as you think. 
The shock which the coldness of the water gives for a 
moment to the nerves is soon overcome, and a pleasant 
feeling of animation, with an agreeable warmth, is soon 
diffused over the frame. 

The circumstances which have befallen your friends, the 

St. family, are very trying. You had not told me 

whether the daughter had returned from her Italian tour. 
Perhaps she shortened it on her mother's account, that she 
herself might attend upon her. 

It has just occurred to me, that on the first of this month 
I have been accustomed to return from Nordernei. It may 
appear extraordinary to you, but it is literally true, that 
this is the first time in my life that I have remained 
here in Tegel for a whole year, which, with the exception 
of a few single days and nights, I have done during the past 
year. When I was a child, my parents always spent the 
winter in town ; subsequently I did so myself. Afterwards 
came my journeys to the baths. So I have been every year 
absent for some months; and latterly certainly in the most 
beautiful season, July and August, when the richness of 
the foliage and the full power of summer over vegetation 
reach their highest point. This time I have thoroughly 
enjoyed it. 



216 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



October 17. 

I am very sorry that an erroneous newspaper report 
should have caused you unnecessary anxiety. Do not, I 
pray, consider newspapers as sources of historical truth. 



October 29. 

Your letter of the 18th of this month has given me 
great pleasure. I thank you most heartily for it. It is 
very cheering that you have felt such a sudden change, 
and that the listlesnesss and depression of body and mind 
from which you have so long suffered, have left you. I am 
particularly glad that this improvement has been connected 
with something in reference to myself* Continue to main- 
tain this cheerful disposition. You see by this incident 
how much the emotions of the soul depend upon the cor- 
poreal condition; and we have also great power over the 
soul through acquired resolution. Think what pleasure 
you give me, and you will endeavour to do this. Think 
of me. 

Farewell. Rest assured of my sincere and unchangeable 
sympathy. H. 

* The alarming reports in regard to the state of his health had 
suddenly given place to more cheerful ones. Ed. 



LETTER LIX. 217 



LETTER LIX. 

TEGEL, Nov. to Dec. 3, 1834. 

I write to you to-day with double pleasure, because I 
can perceive from your last letter that you are well and 
cheerful. You can afford me no greater gratification, dear 
Charlotte, and in no more agreeable manner make me aware 
of your feelings, than through the contents and the tone 
of your letters. The power of doing this depends in great 
measure upon external influences, but it is the work of the 
spirit to maintain cheerfulness as far as possible. He who 
strives to be cheerful, does not do so merely for the sake of 
of his own happiness ; he really exercises a virtue. For 
serenity, even if there be a tinge of melancholy in it, dis- 
poses one to good influences, and gives strength to the 
spirit to impose more work on one's self, and to do more for 
others. The maintenance of cheerfulness under unfavour- 
able circumstances also gives evidence of a contented un- 
assuming disposition, that has not its eyes always selfishly 
upon itself, considering what concerns it to be of greater 
importance than anything that relates to others. It is 
moreover a beautiful and pleasing spirit, which lives as far 
possible in harmony with its destiny, brings to light every 
joy that remains, and understands how to accumulate and 
enjoy them. It is evident that here the morally beautiful 
and noble character conduces the most to happiness, and 
maintains the mind most securely in quiet and thoughtful 
activity. 

* * * * 

You ask me respecting Madame de Barnhagen, whose 
letters under the name of Eachel have been published by 

VOL. II. U 



218 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

her husband. I knew a good deal of her when she was a 
very young girl, a few years before I went to the University 
of Gottingen. Whenever I went to Berlin subsequently, 
I saw her regularly. When I was in Paris also with my 
family she was there for many months, and scarcely a day 
passed in which we did not meet. She was much sought 
after, not merely on account of her amiable character, but 
because one could be certain never to see her without hear- 
ing something worth bringing away, the material for deep 
and earnest thought, or some happy lively idea. She was 
not what would be called a learned woman, although she 
was very well informed. She was indebted to herself for 
her spiritual cultivation. We cannot say that intercourse 
with men of genius contributed to this ; for, on the one 
hand, this intercourse did not occur early in her career, nor 
until she had formed her own opinions through her observa- 
tion of life ; and on the other hand, her thoughts and even 
her feelings bore such indisputable marks of originality, that 
it was impossible to believe that she was indebted to any fo- 
reign influence. She associated too with very uninteresting 
men. This arose from the accident of her external posi- 
tion. But as she possessed great liveliness, and was thrown 
much into company with the other sex, she avoided this 
association less carefully than most clever people would have 
done, and she had a peculiar talent for always discovering 
the brightest side. Each individual characteristic, as such, 
possessed an interest for her, as she made it the object of 
her consideration, and was sure to find out some agreeable 
attribute. De Barnhagen passed in review every point of 
daily life, in connection with inward deep meditation. She 
created her own material for this from the vast variety 
of actual existences. Truth was especially a distinctive 
feature in her moral and intellectual being. She allowed no 
weak self-indulgence to induce her either to shelter herself 
from eventual blame or to shrink from the pain of a strict 
self-examination. She gave herself up to no self-deception, 



LETTER LIX. 219 

no deceitful hopes, but sought for pure and naked truth, 
even if it were to herself bitter and unpalatable. 

I break off here, as I have just received your welcome 
letter. But why, dear Charlotte, will you continue to 
believe the newspapers, and give yourself and pardon me 
me also, so much unnecessary anxiety? I thought you 
were quite satisfied, and here you are again as uneasy as 
ever. My bodily state, upon the whole, is just now better, 
and I do not apprehend any illness, so that I do not think 
that I shall visit Nordernei or any other spa. You see how 
false newspaper reports are ! I am so fortunate as to know 
nothing of what people write about me. You will do me a 
great favour if you will not again allow yourself to be made 
uncomfortable by such reports. I entreat this most ear- 
nestly. 

With sincere sympathy, yours, H. 



220 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER LX. 

TEGEL, Dec. 1834 to 2d Jan. 1835. 

Here we are at the close of another year, dear Char- 
lotte. I may call it a happy one to me, rapidly as it has 
seemed to fly, since it has secured to me the pleasure of 
remaining here, and the hope of doing so for the future, 
undisturbed by those tiresome journeys for bathing. The 
trembling of my hand is wonderfully recovered, but whether 
I may be stronger upon the whole I cannot say. Even this 
varies from day to day ; but its present state is a great 
relief from the former weakness. I should be wrong to 
complain of bodily sufferings ; those which I experience 
are really very bearable, and demand but a moderate degree 
of patience and resignation. I ought to have much more, 
and it may be ordained that I shall yet require more. I 
am never anxious about the future. Man is placed in this 
world to experience various trials, and to improve them for 
his soul's well-being. We should enjoy with thankfulness 
the happiness and freedom from care that fall to our lot, 
but we should never demand them. You see that I am 
neither suffering now, nor under apprehension of doing 
so, and that if any trial befal me, of which I have now no 
anticipation, I should possess strength of mind to bear it. 
I ask you again most earnestly not to yield to feelings of 
anxiety, equally injurious to yourself and painful to me. 
This is not merely a matter of inclination with me, still less 
of caprice. But I entertain the conviction that calm com- 
posure is a worthy manner of acquiescing in the decrees of 
Providence, nay more, that we are bound by duty to 
receive them thus. I must admit that we are not always 
masters of our disposition ; but we can struggle, and an 



LETTER LX. 221 

object earnestly sought for is half obtained. You ask me 
to tell you of some one to whom you can refer when any 
report makes you uneasy. It is very painful to me to be 
obliged to refuse you anything, and you must pardon me 
when I say that I can by no means comply with your re- 
quest. Scarcely anything would be so objectionable to me 
as a correspondence respecting my health with any one but 
myself, whether with or without my knowledge. If I were 
actually ill, the mere thought would add to my sufferings. 
If you wish to oblige me, I must request you never again to 
allude to this wish of yours. You shall never be without 
tidings of me. Really it would be a very superfluous con- 
trivance. You know that you may freely write to me any 
day and hour. If you receive a report that disturbs you, 
ask me about its truth. I will answer directly, though the 
letter may be necessarily short. If I could not myself write, 
I would dictate, and I suppose a letter from me, though not 
in my own hand, would give you more pleasure than one 
from a stranger. 

I must have left the subject of Madame de Barnhagen 
before I had finished what I had to say. After her death 
her husband printed a volume of her letters, merely as a 
gift to friends and relations. This edition is in the pos- 
session of those only to whom it was presented, But sub- 
sequently Barnhagen prepared an enlarged edition in three 
volumes, which was generally sold. I doubt if you would 
be able to obtain this. But I scarcely think you would have 
the patience to read the three volumes. Very much would 
please and interest, nay captivate you, but with the whole, 
so far as I know you, you would hardly agree. In one 
point you quite sympathize : De Barnhagen really idolized 
Goethe ; there was no greatness nor beauty she did not 
find in him. You love and admire him also, although you 
entertain some prejudices against him, which in my opinion 
you carry too far. It makes a difference, however, that 
she knew Goethe personally, so that she would not find 

U2 



222 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

an impartial judgment very easy. It is a question with me 
whether you would be satisfied with the kind of religious 
sentiment that pervades her letters : I rather think not. 
De Barnhagen writes very much of herself, and has certainly 
a sharp and dogmatical manner when speaking of others. 
This we may with justice blame in her, although those who 
wish that the peculiar characteristics of every one should 
be openly discussed, would enjoy the book on this account. 
But she rather relates facts, compares thoughts, and ex- 
presses emotions, than pronounces sentence upon the actions 
and characters of others. When she does this, I can agree 
with her still less than in her other opinions. She was ori- 
ginally a Jewess, and was converted to Christianity shortly 
before her marriage. Her husband, who was much younger 
than she, was at the time of his marriage ambassador at 
Carlsruhe from our Court, and lived afterwards at Berlin, 
where he still resides. He is entirely occupied in literary 
pursuits, and will be remembered amongst the most dis- 
tinguished authors of the day. But he is very delicate, and 
I now scarcely ever see him. 

You say that some one did you the honour, as you call 
it, to compare you to Rachel, but that you lay no claim 
to the honour, and cannot find the slightest resemblance. 
I am of the same opinion, and I am convinced that it is 
merely an unfounded imagination. Two persons may have 
in common with each other general characteristics, as 
honesty, truthfulness, love of meditation, &c.; but each of 
these qualities may exist in different degrees, and in point 
of fact there may be really no resemblance. This was re- 
markably the case with De Barnhagen. For though some 
might admire her, and others, on the contrary, blame her, 
all must agree in thinking her thoroughly original. She 
certainly resembled herself alone, and I do not think any 
one could be mentioned who was really like her. This is 
no eulogium ; it is only the expression of a simple truth; 
you will find it so if you read her letters. A great number 



LETTER LX. 223 

of persons are mentioned in them, some with the full names, 
and others with only the initials. The interest is naturally 
very much increased by an acquaintance with these persons, 
but it does not, properly speaking, depend upon this, as 
general remarks, reasonings, and expressions of feeling are 
united to the personal observations. She is certainly liable 
to one reproach, that of conferring more praise on some 
persons, than on others who could more justly lay claim to 
it. But this can scarcely be called flattery, since they were 
people from whom she had received nothing and could ex- 
pect nothing. However erroneous in such cases her judgment 
and opinions were, the mistake, striking as it was to others, 
was to her evident truth : the individuals appeared to her 
such as she represented them. 



December 29. 

As I do not wish to delay my letter, I can merely thank 
you for yours : I must postpone answering it to another 
time. You know I like letters suggestive of reflection, 
and this is one of that kind. Your friend Theresa has un- 
dertaken a really formidable journey, but if she has the 
happiness of seeing her mother safe, it will afford her joy 
for the present, and agreeable recollections in the time to 
come. 

You mention the storm on St. Sylvester's eve last year, 
from which you prognosticated evil. I have little faith in 
such signs ; but I wish, for the general tranquillity, that this 
year the night may be calmer. You have certainly expe- 
rienced during the year that is just closing, much sorrow, 
disappointment and trouble. May a good Providence richly 
recompense you during the coming year, with health, peace, 
and cheerfulness ! You may calculate with certainty upon 
the continuance of my sentiments towards you. Yours, 

H. 



224 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

I have been much interested, dear Charlotte, in what you 
say in your last letter respecting self-knowledge and self- 
deception. But I do not think that I am quite of your 
opinion. I consider self-knowledge difficult of attainment, 
and but seldom thoroughly acquired, whilst self-deception 
is easy and of frequent occurrence. Some may succeed in 
gaining the object; so I will not dispute the point with you, 
when you think you judge yourself correctly. I could not 
assert the same of myself with equal confidence. At first 
sight it appears more easy to know one's self than others, 
for a man knows his own feelings, whilst he can only per- 
ceive the actions of others, of which he cannot know the real 
motive; so that from this different manner of proceeding, 
he becomes liable to a double error. But the judge should 
remain separate from the one on whom judgment is passed, 
and ought, under all circumstances, to maintain a strict 
impartiality and a calm self-possession. He will not neces- 
sarily be bribed by the subject of his judgment, or be made 
distrustful of him. In self-examination we are exposed to 
all these dangers. We are as much inclined to attribute 
to ourselves faults, or to exaggerate them, as the contrary. 
We judge ourselves unequally too at different times. The 
oft-repeated error does not always arise from want of the 
love of truth, or from self-conceit ; for with the purest in- 
tentions and the most upright design, error creeps into 
every purpose and feeling. The case does not appear to 
me so simple that, as you say, false judgment is only to 
be apprehended through vanity. Vanity itself is of such 
a manifold nature, that perhaps there is no one who would 
venture to call himself free from it. He may be free in 
respect to this or that thing, but not in regard to all. 
Single actions and their motives may be sooner appreciated. 
The more the judgment of ourselves depends upon a suc- 
cession of actions and the whole character, so much the 
less certain will it be. Hence autobiographies are only 
really instructive when they contain a great number of facts 



LETTER LX. 225 

on which to form the judgment. Self-reflection may easily 
be led astray. 

In your letter sent on the 24th of January I have had 
the pleasure of reading again something written in a really 
cheerful mood. You know that I rejoice from my sincere 
sympathy with you ; but I like better to see the tempera- 
ment that always receives joyful events with cheerfulness 
and distressing ones with calmness and self-possession. At 
any rate this is in every case more productive of happiness 
to the individual. 

May the months that follow this flow peacefully for you, 
and may no painful events disturb your present happy 
frame of mind! Maintain your cheerfulness! Fare you 
well. With unchangeable sympathy, yours, H. 



[Sent February 2, 1835.] 



226 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER LXI. 

TEGEL, February 1835. 

I finished my last letter with congratulations upon your 
cheerful mood, and I begin this with the same subject. As 
the year has begun so well, may it also close happily ! Much 
is gained by a good omen, and superstition itself is useful 
if it strengthen confidence ; for with the exception of real 
misfortunes, and of events of great importance, most things 
take their complexion from the state of the mind and feel- 
ing. A spirit which generally maintains cheerfulness is al- 
ways beautiful to contemplate, because it is ever contented 
and unassuming. I do not of course speak of the content- 
ment arising from thoughtlessness and levity. Levity some- 
times assumes the aspect of cheerfulness ; but this beauti- 
ful word shall be used by us only in its noblest sense. True 
cheerfulness arises from the calm and peaceful enlighten- 
ment of the spirit and the thoughts, or the consciousness 
of a joyful emotion really worthy of a human being. Cheer- 
fulness can hardly be commanded in a moral point of view, 
and yet it is the crown of all morality ; for the performance 
of duty is not the extreme point of morality, but rather 
only its indispensable groundwork. The highest character 
is that which, whilst morally correct, is built up in reverence 
for everything holy, in noble opposition to all that is im- 
pure and unbecoming, and in deep and sincere love for the 
good and true. In such a character cheerfulness predo- 
minates, and even when oppressed for a time by real sorrow, 
still remains, though under a different aspect and combined 
with melancholy. So it is equally a blessing and a source 
of improvement. No one knows better than I that the 
happy aspect of men and things around us contributes to 



LETTER LXI. 227 

the cheerful tone of our own minds. I quite approve of the 
plan you pursue for this end, and wish most sincerely that 
it may succeed ; and I must ask you to report its progress 
to me in some detail. 

* * * * 

It appears as if we might look upon the winter as already 
ended. Such mild winters as the present one have fewer 
charms for the eye, and do not secure the enjoyments pro- 
per to winter; but they are, which is more important, 
better suited to human infirmities. The cold that almost 
engenders torpidity has certainly something formidable to 
the imagination, and even to the feelings, not to mention 
the distress which a severe winter produces amongst the 
poorer classes, and which cannot be entirely removed by 
the assistance of the rich, as even in opulent families the 
difference between a mild and a severe winter is sometimes 
very sensibly felt. 



February 27. 

I am in receipt of your letter of the 18th, for which I 
thank you very much. I am rejoiced that you continue 
well and happy. Farewell to-day ! When my next letter 
goes, the first leaves of spring will have begun to burst 
forth. With unchangeable sympathy, yours, H. 



228 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 



LETTER LXII. 

TEQEL, March 1835. 

I always hear through you, dear Charlotte, what is said 
of me in the papers. This time it was only truth as far as 
my health is concerned. Up to this time the extraordinary 
winter has not affected me in the least, although it is 
considered unhealthy. 

How people do mention me in the papers without the 
slightest occasion! It really appears like private tittle- 
tattle about public affairs, for one can hardly have the 
simplicity to suppose that it arises from real interest. It 
is the mania for any and every kind of news. I remem- 
ber that my first impulse was to be offended by such public 
allusions. Whilst I was at Gottingen, a lady wrote to me, 
with whom I kept up a correspondence : now I write often 
to her, but a time will come when she will read of me only 
in the newspapers. It occurred to me even at that time as 
something strange and incredible that my name should be 
mentioned in the papers. Then private relations were not 
meddled with so generally: public events attracted more 
interest. 

If you have read only four volumes of Goethe's Posthu- 
mous Works, you have eleven still to read. Fifteen new 
volumes have appeared since his death, which completes the 
full edition of forty. But I recommend you to read the 
continuation of his Life : it is charming and interesting in 
itself, and contains, besides, the history of the time when 
Ewald was often with him at Offenbach ; so that this period 
will possess a double interest for you, since you have often 
heard Ewald speak of that period, and your remembrance 
of every conversation will blend with Goethe's descriptions. 



LETTER LXII. 229 

As he entitles the account of his life " Truth and Poetry," 
he may possibly have allowed himself great licence. I do 
not think that the posthumous writings contain much that 
would be of use or of interest to you. I cannot recom- 
mend to you those treating on Optics and Natural History: 
you will not derive either present pleasure or future ad- 
vantage from their perusal. 

You will perhaps have seen mentioned in the papers a 

book entitled " Goethe's Correspondence with a Child." If 

it should fall into your hands I recommend you to read it. 

You will find much amusement in it, and you will not fail to 

perceive that the authoress is distinguished by wit and 

talent. She is the widow of the poet Achim von Arnim, and 

granddaughter of the authoress Madame de Laroche; her 

mother was the De Brentano mentioned so frequently in 

Goethe's Life, who left several children. Madame Arnim's 

husband possessed property in the neighbourhood of Berlin, 

and she still lives there. In early youth she was much at 

Frankfort on the Maine with Goethe's mother, who appears 

to have been very fond of her. Thence arose her intercourse 

with Goethe himself, which was at first only by letters, but 

afterwards became personal. She has printed only two 

volumes of correspondence, partly with Goethe and partly 

with his mother, and one volume of a diary. The principal 

theme is her passionate attachment to Goethe. Besides this, 

they contain relations of her own and of others' experiences, 

reflections, and reasonings. These volumes contain but thirty 

letters of Goethe's, of which some occupy only a few lines. 

They give full evidence of Bettina's really rare mind and 

of her remarkable originality. The correspondence was 

carried on in the years 1807-8, when the authoress was not 

a child, but still quite young though grown up. Altogether 

the book has made a noise, and found many to approve, 

although the really beautiful and ingenious passages are 

mixed with others which from their extreme vivacity of 

expression may offend. It is to be regretted that with such 

VOL. II. X 



230 w. VON HUMBOLDT'S LETTERS. 

real originality so many traits of a whimsical nature should 
exist. The book contains some interesting details respect- 
ing Goethe's mother. She does not appear to have been 
remarkable for genius; but her liveliness, her desire for 
society and even for pleasure, and especially a certain 
tone of originality, may have had their influence upon her 
son. Madame Arnim's book gives some very lively letters 
of hers. One part of the work is highly interesting, from 
the depth of feeling it displays, and that is an account of the 
death of a Mad 1 ?. 6 de Giinderrode, of whom you must have 
heard. She committed suicide, an unhappy passion having 
led her to this fatal act. 



March 28. 
(Eleven days before William von Humboldt's death.') 

I received on the 23d your letter of the 18th, dear 
Charlotte, but I have not yet read the whole of it, as my 
eyes are not to be trusted, and other occupations have 
intervened. With unchangeable and sincere sympathy, 
yours, H. 

(Received April 4, 1835.) 



The 8th of April came, and brought me the intelli- 
gence, in an unknown hand, dated the 4th of April, of 
" an illness now passing away," worded so as to spare 
my feelings as much as possible. The day that I re- 
ceived this intelligence in tlie unknown hand, was the 
day of the death of WILLIAM VON HUMBOLDT. 

A. DE H. 



REMARKS AND ADDITIONS. 



LETTER III (VOL. L, p. 31.) 

BETWEEN the years 1814 and 1820 those public events oc- 
curred which are now matters of history, and WILLIAM VON 
HUMBOLDT'S life and labours were then devoted to the State. 
At this time I could not expect long letters, but I was con- 
tinually receiving tokens of remembrance and intelligence 
respecting my property and my own affairs; indeed I found 
the most affecting proofs of friendly sympathy in the public 
prints. 

Although I received few letters and those short ones, 1 
ought not to have refrained from writing long letters my- 
self. Yet at first I wrote seldom; for how could I summon 
courage to trouble with my scribbling a statesman burdened 
with the most important business, the arrangement of which 
was of the greatest consequence ? This may account for 
my long silence. 

The retirement of William von Humboldt from the 
ministry in 1819 was a public event, much spoken of and 
well known to me. Silent and still trusting, I waited to see 
what turn affairs would take for me. At length two short 
letters, the third and fourth, appeared immediately after 
each other. They brought joy and life into my existence. 
The correspondence was then fixed, settled, and determined; 
it now suffered no break nor interruption, and through it 
an inexhaustible source of exalted joy and spiritual elevation 
was opened to me. 



232 REMARKS AND ADDITIONS. 



LETTER VII. ( VOL. L, p. 38.) 

The request contained in this letter alarmed me upon 
more than one account, although I wished to comply with 
it. My reply was as follows (according to a copy which I 
retained): "The wish which you express in your last 
letter to me, my highly honoured friend, is a new proof of 
your very kind sympathy, which I feel and acknowledge 
most thankfully, and I have a deep sense of the obligation 
under which I lie to comply with your request. But at the 
same time I confess that I am somewhat alarmed when I 
consider the difficulties and perplexities that oppose me. In 
the first place, permit me to make this objection : How shall 
I find courage to present my life with its occurrences, which, 
however important they may be to me, must appear very 
insignificant in your eyes, accustomed as you are to con- 
template the world, life, events, and men, on a large scale. 
Besides, time has dimmed my memory of many things; 
others are yet more deeply sunk in the obscurity of the 
past, and this will render such an attempt very difficult. 
I acknowledge thankfully the friendly and flattering com- 
mendation of my writing, but I see at the same time that 
it ought to encourage me. I answer immediately, as you 
requested me, in order to give you honestly my first im- 
pression of your request. Assure yourself, dearest and best 
friend, that I will consider of it in every point of view. 
Shall I be able to conquer my native timidity, which makes 
me shrink back ashamed 1 ? I wish and hope to be able to 
do so, as my life, in its most intricate situations and re- 
lations, as well as the working of my soul, might be known, 
perceived, and understood by you, by the relation of the 
simplest truth. Pardon me that I once more, and only 
once, recur to your much too kind commendation of my 
writing. It is great, infinite kindness, I know, and not 
a jest, although it may perhaps bear the semblance of 



ON LETTER VII., 1822. 233 

one; for whose pen has a charm like yours? I have never 
made any pretensions to fine writing ; indeed I have rather 
guarded myself against the attempt, for I think that it is 
attended with much danger to the character. I wrote a 
good deal, earlier than most women, partly from obligation 
and partly from inclination. At first I thought that I ought 
to express myself in writing exactly as I did in speaking; 
this was a necessary expression of my character, which 
abhors all falsehood and deceit. Then I was careful to avoid 
exaggeration, which was always repulsive to me. Thus the 
expression of my feelings remained simple and natural; 
the more so that I utterly despise all artificialness and 
pomposity. As I was obliged, earlier than is generally the 
case, to be occupied with business matters, this clearness 
of statement became essentially necessary to me. In this 
way I perhaps gained more facility in writing than I should 
have done but for this necessity. I became fond of this sort 
of occupation for my own improvement, and wrote much 
for myself. How could I foresee that this habit would pave 
the way, at a later period, for a nearer communion with 
the dear object of many years affectionate veneration ! In 
what I here say you will perceive my entire readiness to 
obey you. But I repeat the request that you will grant 
me a few days for deliberation. After that I will frankly 
tell you the result. 

" Permit me, however, to object to one point. To use 
the third person in what I write to you alone would lay me 
under great restraint. My fortunes as well as my character 
have had their origin within my mind, and have re-acted 
upon it. Many thousand women, had they experienced what 
I have done, would have worked out a far different destiny. 
This individuality ruling over us, seems to blend with the 
eternal decrees of fate. We can act only as we do act; much 
that is done by others, even if we do not blame it, our 
inner mind condemns as incompatible with our own feelings. 
Such events can only be spoken of with the deepest confi- 

x2 



234 REMARKS AND ADDITIONS. 

dence, and the plainest, I might almost say the simplest truth. 
The semblance or outside show is quite indifferent to the 
fully-tried mature spirit, which cherishes a tearful experience 
as a sanctuary inclosed in the bosom. But it reposes itself in 
faith upon All-wise and Eternal love. To a friend of youth, 
too, long and sincerely loved, it can and will lay itself open, 
and to such alone ! Why then a strange, artificial, re- 
strictive form 1 ? I make this objection because it is natural, 
and I write for you alone. I have often been asked to write 
an account of my own life, or to authorize another and give 
him the materials; but I have always rejected the idea. 
After experiencing unusual fatalities we are enabled to con- 
sider them only in their salutary effects, to look upon them 
with reverence as the appointments of a higher Providence, 
and even to regard them with thankfulness. At the end of 
our course, of how little consequence is it what we have suf- 
fered ! how infinitely important the results to ourselves ! If I 
should be worthy of your sympathy, and participate in your 
influence so rich in blessing, I should not wish anything to 
have been different. Nevertheless, it is natural that I should 
be affected at the reminiscence of a painful past, and on this 
account I cannot give you a decided answer. You already 
know from my earlier letters that my experience has not 
been a common one. Many images have grown faint and 
indistinct; I could not call them back again, nay I dare not; 
it would destroy me if I lingered too long on the dark and 
gloomy passages of my life. You appear to have made these 
objections yourself, and you know better than I can tell you, 
that one whose experience has been extensive, and who has 
known great sorrow, honours it in silence, and has neither 
the power nor the will to speak of it ; whilst he who nei- 
ther knows nor understands sorrow makes it his perpetual 
subject. I wait your answer with confidence; and I have a 
right to do so, for you certainly will not blame my timid 
objections, and you will be lenient to my weakness, whilst 
you are fully aware that it is my wish and will to obey you. 



ON LETTER IX., 1822. 235 

Perhaps I may remit you, sooner than you expect, some 
sheets as an experiment. 



LETTER IX. ( VOL. I., p. 45.) 

In my answers to the repeated questions of my friend 
respecting the books and writing with which I was princi- 
pally occupied, even in childhood, I could not be so diffuse 
as I should have been, had time permitted. So I ventured 
to send first some sheets for inspection which had been 
addressed to a friend of my own sex, but were not quite 
completed; they alluded to these subjects. In these pages 
were my comments upon Goethe and many of his works. 
It was a confidential, friendly criticism, which was perfectly 
unprejudiced, and would never have been expressed had I 
known or even conjectured in what close intimacy the two 
men were. Amongst others, I dwelt upon the noble Frede- 
rica in Sesenheim, with whose affections Goethe sported so 
cruelly, amusing himself at the expense of the happiness 
of her whole life, and never thought of her again ! How- 
ever beautifully he relates this in his " Truth and Poetry," 
it will never be read by women without painful sympathy, 
the more so, that it is sadly evident afterwards that it 
was not " Poetry " but " Truth," as the unhappy results of 
this acquaintance were unsparingly made public. In this 
little essay, I alluded to my dear, tender-hearted friend 
(without mentioning his name) as a much greater man than 
Goethe; I contrasted his lofty sentiments with Goethe's 
restless petulance. The ninth letter was an answer to this 
composition. 



LETTERS X. XL XII., &c. (VOL. L, p. 50, et seq.) 

It is well known how sacred William von Humboldt 
held the remembrances and the genius of youth. This is 



236 REMARKS AND ADDITIONS. 

expressed in many of his sonnets as well as in his letters. 
His brother, in the preface to the " Collected Works " of 
the deceased, calls those deeply-felt poems " the journal in 
which a noble life, full of emotion, is reflected." The son- 
nets could not well have been more beautifully and more 
appropriately designated. 

The great kindness, and even pleasure, with which every 
portion of the narrative of my life was received, was rich 
reward for the labour and the time it cost me. If it were 
not an occurrence so rare, and at the same time so charac- 
teristic, to perceive a man who on all sides and in every 
direction led so active and useful a life, following with such 
lively interest the development of the character of a child 
in the quiet, simple, country life of the middle classes, I 
neither could nor should have communicated anything of 
the sort that is mentioned in pages 94, 108, 145, and the 
following. At first I was inclined to believe, that a man 
who, from birth and cultivation, had always moved in the 
first circles, in literary, artistic, and aesthetic associations 
and occupations, wished for once to become acquainted, from 
a simple, true, and natural narrative, with the inner do- 
mestic life of a circle so far removed from his own. How 
grateful was I when I became convinced of the benevolent 
interest in myself! I could not yet conceive that it arose 
entirely from sympathy, whilst I was contented to think 
that not every one would find pleasure in dwelling on such 
a narrative. So I wrote, in truth, only from obedience, and 
was richly rewarded for it, first by the kind reception and 
high estimation, and yet more by the indubitable conviction 
that it afforded pure joy to the simple, truly human being. 
This joy was now infinitely heightened by his benignant 
sympathy with myself, whose unchangeable sentiments had 
been truly devoted to him through a long life from early 
youth. The reader who dwells upon these letters and the 
notes, will consider in such a point of view the communi- 
cation of many passages, which blessed the receiver, and 
displayed yet more clearly the rich soul of the writer. 



ON LETTER XVII., 1823. 237 



LETTER XVII. ( VOL. I., p. 74.) 

Some explanation may be necessary respecting the ob- 
scure allusions contained in this letter. I am certainly 
not in a position to solve the problem, I can only relate 
the mysterious event which so much interested William von 
Humboldt. 

It appeared quite indisputable, that there was in con- 
nection with my father something mysterious, yes, even 
belonging to the invisible world, and never satisfactorily ex- 
plained although carefully investigated. He was himself 
perfectly conscious of it. Without being either elated or 
depressed, he spoke of it; related with seriousness many 
events in different periods of his life, without firm belief, 
without fear, but also without a scornful, incredulous re- 
jection. He was accustomed to say " No one has yet 
penetrated and recognised the connection between the seen 
and the unseen worlds." 

There were fewer manifestations through the sense of 
sight than through that of hearing. Loud, even noisy move- 
ments were heard in the rooms occupied or occasionally used 
by him, often as soon as he had left them never during 
his presence. These noises were like those that he himself 
made in the usual employments of his literary life : rustling 
of books, manuscripts, and papers, moving of tables, draw- 
ing fqrward of chairs, walking backwards and forwards, 
sometimes slowly, sometimes more rapidly everything ex- 
actly the same, only louder than was usual with my father; 
so that my mother and we children in a lower room thought 
that he was in the house. He was accustomed, when the 
weather permitted, to go out for an hour before dinner 
either on foot or on horseback. It was his habit then to 
lock his study and to put the key in his pocket. At these 
times the noises were the loudest. Very often when he 
came to table he was serious, somewhat dull and silent, ate 



238 REMARKS AND ADDITIONS. 

little or not at all. At another time lie would relate, calmly 
enough, yet often with a clouded brow, that when he took 
the key and was going to unlock the door, it appeared as if 
the invisible sharer of the room would jump up with a noise 
as if surprised, and throwing about the chairs hasten into 
the adjoining room, which was however always bolted on 
both sides. Very often it appeared as if he could not help 
believing that some one was in his study and moving his 
papers about. But he went in, found all unchanged, just 
as he had left them, books, papers, pens, &c. all in their 
wonted places, and the chair at the table at which he was 
accustomed to write, undisturbed. My mother, who was in 
the habit of attending to many household occupations in an 
adjoining room in the same passage on the same floor, said 
sometimes to her children " God forgive me, I believe 
your father is double ! " What very much lessened the fear- 
fulness of this was that the nights and afternoons were quiet. 
In the mornings, and particularly about noon, these noises 
occurred for more than a year; they were perceived also by 
visitors. It was really disheartening that not merely all 
investigations were unsatisfactory, but that no deeper mean- 
ing was ever discovered in them. They were neither omens 
nor warnings neither elevating nor consoling; everything 
appeared like the sport of evil spirits, who wished only to 
excite fear and horror. Here, however, habit exercised her 
right : we at last became accustomed to these secret invisible 
agencies, and as they never did us any harm, we soon almost 
forgot them. Whatever inquiries and investigations were 
undertaken, no satisfactory explanation could be attained. 
All these haunting noises ceased at my mother's death, which 
occurred soon after, so that they might have been auguries 
of that event. 



ON LETTER XX., 1823. 239 

LETTER XX. ( VOL. I., p. 88.) 

The remark of mine, which gave rise to the answer 
" It is perfectly true that my lot in life is a very happy 
one," &c., was certainly made by me only with joy and 
thankfulness, although it was not till afterwards that I be- 
came acquainted with all the circumstances of his private life. 
Where could be found such a union of the elements of true 
happiness? First the rich, manifold gifts of the spirit, the 
universal recognition of their influence and effect; then family 
connections such as rarely exist ; the agreeable proximity of 
two brothers, who had been separated for many years, who 
enjoyed equal privileges in every way; completely blessed 
in a wife and companion for life, who shared all his wishes, 
and who could follow and enter into all his lofty ideas ; all 
external circumstances in harmony; the intimate commu- 
nion with Schiller; undisturbed, strong health for a long 
period; and, amongst all the other favours of fortune, that 
which belongs not to the last or least portion of life the 
privilege of living according to his inclination at beautiful 
Tegel, in his favourite study certainly a rare, delightful 
spectacle ! 



LETTER XXII. (VOL. I., p. 96.) 

The reference made to dreams partaking of the nature 
of animal magnetism, may here require some words (if not 
explanatory yet making the point somewhat clearer), re- 
specting a strange or at any rate a rare physiological ten- 
dency of mind, as such a one has become known to me 
from repeated, never-varying accounts, without, however, 
my having received or being able to give any explanation. 

My father had a violent and lingering illness when I was 



240 REMARKS AND ADDITIONS. 

very young. Contrary to the expectations of the physicians, 
he was saved by a severe operation, which was performed 
by a very skilful surgeon who had been called in. After 
the subsequent complete cure of my father, this surgeon 
was loved and honoured by all of us as a valued benefactor, 
and both the families became very intimate, the more so 
that the different members, young and old, were about the 
same age. Next spring, our first visit to the neighbouring- 
town was to Dr. M.'s. This little merry excursion was a 
real holiday for all of us. At the stopping of the carriage, 
in descending from it at the entrance into the hall, my 
father became grave and perplexed still more so upon 
entering the sitting-room. Dr. M.'s house was old, and full 
of angles in which it was difficult to find one's way, and a 
concealed passage led into a small garden, called by the 
children the labyrinth. After the first reception, the visitors 
were shown to their rooms. Then the guest took his host 
by the arm, with the words, " Now / will lead your In 
silence he brought him first to the dining-room, then through 
every corner of the house, describing each room and cham- 
ber before entering it; and last of all he recognised the 
concealed passage to the garden. He knew every piece of 
furniture in this house almost more correctly than those in 
his own, and gave to the astonished company the following 
explanation : that during his severe illness of three months, 
every fevered slumber brought him to this house; he had been 
so often and staid so long in every one of these rooms, that 
he knew them all perfectly. But as he had never previously 
beheld the scene of his dreams, there could be no remem- 
brance of it to arise again in the sick fancy; so he had 
considered them as entirely fanciful, diseased visions, without 
thinking any more on the subject. One may imagine his 
astonishment at the stopping of the carriage and the first 
sight of the house, increasing more and more as his visions 
became realized ! 



ON LETTER XXII., 1823. 241 

He was wont to dwell upon this extraordinary phenome- 
non of his inward powers of vision, and related this expe- 
rience with such uniform exactitude, that I am able to 
repeat it with equal faithfulness. These wonderful events, 
which had such strong interest for William von Humboldt? 
and which he attributed to animal magnetism, never received 
any further explanation. Who could wish for himself such 
an inward power? Zschokke, in his review of himself, men- 
tions a similar instance of power of vision, yet at the same 
time very different, as it concerned the adventures and even 
the secrets of others. 

An answer to the conclusion of the last letter is not 
amongst my papers ; but some fragments which can belong 
to it alone, may, as they are characteristic, find here a se- 
parate place : 

" Where can I find words to express the total impression 
which the conclusion of your very kind letter has made 
upon me 1 ? Astonishment, wonder, shame and joy, and even 
a species of fear, but above all, deeply-felt gratitude to you 
for your constant benevolent care and sympathy, and for 
your estimation of me, so much outweighing my unimpor- 
tant worth, which is so deeply moving to me. What a rich 
recompense for much bitter sorrow ! " 



" If there is light in my soul, it has been kindled by you, 
and thus become my own. If I now gave up what enriches, 
quickens, animates, and blesses me, how poor, how dead, 
how lifeless I should become ! " 



" Shall we ought we women to give out the treasure of 
our inner selves, the greater or less abundance of our souls? 
shall it not rather animate and warm ourselves alone?" 



242 REMARKS AND ADDITIONS. 

" To you, yes to you, my highly honoured, adored friend ! 
might my whole mind be displayed, and to you alone, that 
by you it may be understood, comforted, instructed, advised, 
and directed aright. The unlimited confidence with which 
I always can and do speak to you without any fear, often 
surprises myself, and appears wonderful, considering the 
awe with which I am ever filled. What have you done to 
infuse this feeling into me'?" 



" I never could resolve upon thus putting myself forward : 
there is a boldness in it which is quite denied to me. How 
thankful I feel, how honourable it would be for me to stand 
publicly under your protection (oh ! I have long wished it, 
and yet have remained silent) ; but certainly this diffident 
timidity is innate, and fortune has only increased it. At 
the same time, it may be that what unfolds itself before the 
sunny ray of happiness can bear observation however bold, 
whilst that which is opened in the concealment of the dark 
shade is frightened, as it were, and fades away." 



" It appears to me in general as if women required the 
protecting shade of concealment. For when we leave it, 
there are unnumbered sharp darts directed against us, which 
do not fail of their aim. No, never should I find the courage 
to do so, though I am penetrated with gratitude for your 
goodness. No comparison can be drawn between Theresa 
Huber and myself. She was a daughter of Heyne, and the 
wife of both Forster and Huber : unusual powers were com- 
bined in her with the richest fancy; but what have I?" 



" But as we have arrived at this point I am willing to 
confess to you although, upon the whole, a sacred as well 
as delicate feeling rather enjoins silence towards you that 



REMARKS AND ADDITIONS. 243 

I should acknowledge it as a high favour of Heaven, if in 
my later years should this hard lot await me I could be 
again released from the necessity of labour. Yet this would 
need to be brought about in such a way as would accord 
with my whole character, for, as you very kindly remark, 
that which might be acceptable to others would not be in 
all respects suitable for me. On this account I shall always 
lament that the Duke of Brunswick, who was so kindly 
disposed towards me, fell so early at Waterloo : had he lived 
longer, my losses would have been compensated through 
his justice, and by that means an old age without anxious 
care secured to me !" 



" But I must not and will not remonstrate against the 
dispensations of Providence. It was necessary that every- 
thing should happen as it did, and that nothing should be 
omitted that I might atttain that which fate or let me 
speak in my own way, which Providence had prepared for 
me : communion with you, my beloved, my adored friend, 
and participation in your friendship, and your influence 
upon my character in all its developments." 



" In fact I am still in the enjoyment of noble and rich 
blessings, of which many wealthy women stand in need, 
blessings retained in the midst of his impoverishment by 
one who has lost his former prosperity, and unknown to 
him who has grown up in poverty, because he is accustomed 
to see in riches the only secure and inexhaustible source of 
happiness. I have chosen a fatiguing occupation, but it is 
allied both to art and nature. I gain independence by 
effort and industry amid free nature and in unnoticed soli- 
tude, and this answers all my desires. I have secured and 
still retain an apartment for my leisure hours, and thither 
I fly when my daily returning labour oppresses me too 



244 REMARKS AND ADDITIONS. 

heavily. The more important portion of my occupation 
claims all my thoughts, cares, and arrangements; but the 
mechanical part of it, which, though less, is happily not 
awanting, leaves the spirit free, and then, left to myself, I 
recall in the depths of my soul the thoughts contained in 
your last letter, and acknowledge with the warmest gra- 
titude how they aim at bestowing the valuable gifts of con- 
solation and sympathy, raising me above life and its concerns, 
and conducting me to the height from which you yourself 
contemplate both." 



THE END. 



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" This is a valuable contribution to 
literature. The peculiar eminence 
readied by Dr. Channing during his 
life makes a history of himseli and 
of his mind indispensable to the future 
student of opinion." Athenanim. 

" It is a work of high merit, and of 
deep interest." Examiner. 

" JC)r. Channing had none of the nar- 
row intolerance that distinguishes the 
more rigid sectarians." Spectator. 

" It is pleasing to add, that objections 
to the theological tenets of Dr. Chan- 
ning, do not prevent our entertaining a 
high admiration of his general writ- 
ings ; but this admiration rises to a far 
higher feeling as we study his biogra- 
phy ; for we see that, ' singularly lofty 
as is the spirit which his writings 
breathe, he was true to them in heart 
and life :' and we find the secret of his 

Reverberations. Part I. 

Fcp. 8vo, paper cover, Is. 

Reverberations. Part II. 

Fcp. 8vo. paper cover, 2s. 

" In this little verse-pamphlet of some 
sixty or seventy pages, we think we see 
evidences of a true poet ; of a fresh and 
natural fount of genuine song ; and of 
a purpose and sympathy admirably 

suited to the times The purchaser 

of it will find himself richer in possess- 



ing it by many wise and charitable 
thoughts, many generous emotions, and 
much calm and quiet, yet deep reflec- 
tion." Examiner. 

"Remarkable for earnestness of 
thought and strength of diction." 
Morning Herald. 



Works published by 



The Christian's Key to the Philosophy of Socialism 5 



Being Hints and Aids towards an Analytical Enquiry into the Principles of 
Social Progress, with a View to the Elucidation of the great practical pro- 
blem of the present day, the Improvement of the Condition of the Working 
Classes. In ten propositions, by UPSILON. Post 8vo, paper cover, Is. 

The Artist's Married Life : being that of Alhert Durer. 

For devout Disciples of the Arts, Prudent Maidens, as well as for the 
Profit and Instruction of all Christendom, given to the light. Translated 
from the German of Leopold Schefer, by Mrs. J. R. STODART. 1 vol. 
fcp. 8vo, ornamental binding, 6s. 

" It is the worthy aim of the novel- 
ist to show that even the trials of genius 
are part of its education that its very 

wounds are furrows for its harvest 

No one, indeed, would have a right to 
expect from the author of the Laien- 
brevier 1 (see Ath. No. 437) such a stern 
and forcible picture of old times and 
trials as a Meinhold can give still less 
the wire-drawn sentimentalities of a 
Hahn-Hahn ; but pure thoughts high 



morals tender feelings might be 

looked for The merits of this story 

consist in its fine purpose, and its 
thoughtful, and ft>r the most part just, 
exposition of man's inner life. To those 
who, chiefly appreciating such qualities, 
can dispense with the stimulants of 
incident and passion, the book before us 
will not be unacceptable." Athenaeum. 



" The work reminds us of the happiest 

efforts of Tieck The design 

is to show how, in spite of every obsta- 
cle, genius will manifest itself to the 
world, and give shape and substance to 

its beautiful dreams and fancies 

It is a very pure and delightful compo- 
sition, is tastefully produced in an anti- 
que style, and retains in the translation 
all the peculiarities (without which the 
book would lose half its merit) of Ger- 
man thought and idiom," Britannia. 

" Simply then we assure our readers 
that we have been much pleased with 
this work. The narrative portion is well 
conceived, and completely illustrates 
the author's moral; while it is inter- 
spersed with many passages which are 
full of beauty and pathos." Inquirer. 



The Principles of Nature, her Divine Revelations, and a Voice 

TO MANKIND. By and through ANDREW JACKSON DAVIS, the 
"Poughkeepsie Seer," and "Clairvoyant." 2 vols. large 8vo. cloth, 

18s. 

*% The Work consists of 800 pages, including a history of its produc- 
tion, with a Biographical Sketch, and Portrait (engraved on Steel) of the 
Author. 

Peter Jones, or Onward Bound. 

An Autobiography. 

" The idea of the biography is to 
depict a mind rising from a condition 
of ignorance, and, by means of me- 



Post 8vo, cloth, 3s. 

bearing of all on theological dogmata 
and the literature of the Hebrews. 
The writer is manifestly competent to 



his task, and has accomplished it with 
uncommon ability and considerable 
taste." Douglas Jerrold's Newspaper, 



chanics' institutions, and the reading of 
books in the English tongue, realising 
for itself the relations between philoso- 
phy, science, and religion, and the 

The Philosophy of Human Knowledge. 

Or a critical analysis of the Three Great Questions. What knows ? What 
is known ? What 'are the laws of knowing ? By JOHN JONES OSBORNE. 
8vo. cloth, price 4s. 

By the same Author. 

A Treatise on Logic. 

Or an Introduction to Science. Fcp. 8vo. stiff cover, Is. 



John Ctiapman, 142, Strand. 



The Education of the Feelings. 

By CHARLKS BRAY. Second Edition. Post 8vo. cloth, 2s, 6d. 

Italy : past and present. 

Or, GENERAL VIEWS of its HISTORY, RELIGION, POLITICS, LITERATURE 
and ART. By L. MARIOTTI. 2 vols. post Svo. Cloth, 1.0s. 6d. 



" This is a useful book, informed with 
lively feeling and sound judgment. It 
contains an exhibition of Italian views 
of matters, social and political, by an 
Italian who lias learned to speak 
through English thoughts as well as 
English words. Particularly valuable 
are the sketches of recent Italian 
history-, for the prominent characters 
are delineated in a cordial and sympa- 
thetic spirit, yet free from enthusiastic 
ideas, and with unsparing discrimina- 
tion .The criticisms on 'The Past' 

will richly repay perusal ; it is, how- 
ever, on 'The Present' of Italy that 
the main interest of the book resides. 



I This volume does not merely possess an 
interest similar to that of contemporary 
1 works ; it supplies a desideratum, and 
i is well adapted to aid the English 
i reader in forming a just estimate of the 
I great events now in progress in Italy. 
I Not the least wonderful part of the 
j book is the entire mastery the author 
i lias acquired of our language." Ex- 
aminer, April. 

" Our author has an earnest, nay en- 
| thusiastic, love and admiration of his 
native country; with the ability and 
eloquence to render his subject very 
interesting and attractive." Morning 
Advertiser, 



The following notices refer to the first volume of the work : 



" The work is admirable, useful, in- 
structive. I am delighted to find an 
Italian coming forward with so much 
noble enthusiasm, to vindicate his 
country and obtain for it its proper 
interest in the eyes of Europe. The 

English is wonderful 1 never saw 

any approach to such a style in a 
foreigner before as full of beauty in 
diction as in thought " Sir E. Bulwer 
Lytton, Bart. 

" I recognise the rare characteristics 
of genius a large conception of the 
topic, a picturesque diction founded on 
profound thought, and that passionate 
sensibility which becomes the subject 
a subject beautiful as its climate, and 
inexhaustible as its soil." B. Disraeli, 
Esq., M.P. 

" A very rapid and summary resume 
of the fortunes of Italy from the fall of 
tho Roman Empire to the present 
moment. A work of industry and 
labour, written with a good purpose. 
A bird's-eye view of the subject that 
will revive the recollections of the 
scholar, and seduce the tyro into a 
longer course of reading." Attenaum. 

"'This work contains more inform- 
ation on the subject, and more refer- 
ences to the present position of Italy, 
than we have seen in any recent nro- 
duction." Foreign Quarterk/ Review. 

" In reference to style,' the work 



before us is altogether extraordinary, 
as that of a foreigner, and in the higher 
quality of thought we may commend 
the author for his acute, and often 
original, criticism, and his quick per- 
ception of the grand and beautiful in 
his native literature." Prescott (in the 
North American Review.) 

" The work before us consists of a 
continuous parallel of the political and 
literary history of Italy from the earli- 
est period of the middle ages to the 
present time. The author not only 
penetrates the inner relations of those 
dual appearances of national life, but 
possesses the power of displaying them 
to the reader with great clearness and 
effect. We remember no other work in 
which the civil conditions and literary 
achievements of a people have been 
blended in such a series of living pic- 
tures, representing successive periods oi 
history." Algemeine Zeitung. 

"An earnest and eloquent work." 
Examiner. 

"A work ranking distinctly in the 
class of belles lettres, and well deserv- 
ing of a library place in England." 
Literary Gazette. 

" A work warmly admired by excel- 
lent judges." Tail's Magazine. 

"An admirable work written with 
great power and beauty." Prof. Long- 
fellow. (Poets and Poetry of Europe.) 



Works published by 



Poems. By Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

Post 8vo. 4s. cloth gilt. 



" There are in these stanzas many 
a fine image and sometimes a cluster 
of such scattered symbols of deep sig- 
nificanceand the presence of sincere 

and earnest thinking everywhere 

A wild low music accompanies these 
artless strains ; an indistinct, uncertain 
melody such a tune as an untaught 
musical nature might choose to itself in 
solitary places There are some- 
times stanzas which are suggestive, not 
only in a political relation, but in one 
far higher as touching those social re- 
forms which now everywhere command 
the attention of society. Some portions 
of a series of poems entitled 'Wood 
Notes,' are in their peculiar way yet 
finer ; and the entire succession has 
been enthusiastically received on the 
other side of the Atlantic." Atherunum. 



" There are in this volume nnmistake- 
able evidences of genius; the soul of 
the poet flashes out continually ; and the 
hand of the poet is seen often." Critic. 

" He occasionally reminds us of the 
reflective depth or Wordsworth; and 
sqmetimes evinces a delicate fancy and 
richness of epithetworthyof Tennyson." 
Manchester Examiner. 

"His lines are full of meaning." 
Inquirer. 

" To read his finer pieces is to our 
poetic feeling like receiving a succes- 
sion of electric shocks ; even his un- 

shaped fragments are not bits of glass 
but of diamond, and have always the 
true poetic lustre. We know of no 
compositions that surpass his in their 
characteristic excellence." Christian 
Examiner. 



Endeayours after the Christian Life. (First Series.) 

By JAMES MARTINEAU. Second Edition; 12mo, 7*. 6d. cloth. 

EndeaYours after the Christian Life. (Second Series.) 

By JAMES MARTINEAU. I2mo, 7*. 6d. cloth. 

Heartily do we welcome a second of the orthodox in all departments 

might receive from them intellectual 
stimulus, moral polish, and in some 



volume of 'Endeavours after the 
Christian Life,' because when all that 
suits not our taste is omitted, we have 



still left more to instruct, interest, im- 
prove, and elevate, than in almost any 
other volume with which we are ac- 
quainted Whatever may be its 

defects, we regard it as one of the most 
precious gifts to the religious world in 
modern times." Inquirer. 

"Mr. Martineau is known, much 
beyond the limits of his own denomin- 



moods religious edification." Noncon- 
formist. 

" One of the most interesting, attrac- 
tive, and most valuable series of essays 
which the literature of Christianity has 
received from priest or layman for 
many a year. 

" Volumes that have in them both 
intellect and true eloquence, and which 
satisfy the understanding while they 

ation, as a man of great gifts and ac- please the taste and improve the heart. 

complishments, and his publications " When we say that these Discourses 

have been all marked by subtle and j 

vigorous thought, much beauty of | 

imagination, and certain charms of i 

composition, which are sure to find 

admirers There is a delicacy and 

ethereality of ethical sentiment in 



are eminently practical, we mean that 
they are adapted, not only for man in 
the abstract to teach the duties of 
Christianity everywhere but also with 
reference to the circumstances of 
society of the age and country in 
which our lot is cast." Critic. 



these discourses which must commend 
them, and we may safely say that many 

Politieal Economy., and the Philosophy of GoYernment. 

A Series of Essays selected from the works of M. DE SISMONDI. With 
an Historical Notice of his Life and "Writings by M. MIGNET. Trans- 
lated from the French, and illustrated hy Extracts from an unpublished 
Memoir, and from M. de Sismondi's private Journals and Letters, to 
which is added a List of his Works, and a preliminary Essay, by the 
Translator. 8vo. cloth, 6s. 

" In this country the views of Sismon- 
di, long derided, and long kept down, 



have lately achieved a signal'triumph, 
and are still advancing for the amelio- 



ration of social ills The essays 

embody Sismondi's settled views on 
Political Economy, and on the true 
policy which should animate a Govern- 



John Chapman, 142, Strand. 



ment After having studied more 

deeply than most men, the science of j 
Government and the speculations of I 
Political Philosophy, he settled down I 
into the conviction that the principles 
of Christianity were as applicable to 
the life of nations as to that of indivi- 
duals, and that the happiness of the 



people would be best promoted by ob- 
serving them Besides the essays 

the volume contains many curious illus- 
trations of the Life of Sismondi 

In an ingenious preliminary essay by 
the translator, the views of Sismondi 
are applied to our social condition at 
the present time." Britannia. 



A Brief Exposition of the Gospel of St. Matthew. 

By the Rev. R. E. B. MACLELLAN, of Cambridge. 12mo. cloth, price 3s. 

History of the Hebrew Monarchy, from the Administration of 

Samuel to the Babylonish Captivity. By FRANCIS WILLIAM NEWMAN, 
formerly Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, and Author of" The Soul: her 
Sorrows and Aspirations, &c." 8vo, cloth, 10s, 6d. 



" It is truly refreshing to find Jewish 
history treated, as in the volume before 
us, according to the rules of sound 

criticism, and good sense The 

publication of such a work will form 
an epoch in biblical literature in this 
country." Inquirer. 

"The Author has brought a very 
acute mind, familar with knowledge 
that is beyond the range of ordinary 
scholarship, to the task of combining 
and interpreting the antique and frag- 
mentary records which contain the 



only materials for his work." Prospec- 
tive Review. 

"This book must be regarded, we 
think, as the most valuable contribution 
ever made in the English Language to 
our means of understanding that por- 
tion of Hebrew History to which it 

relates The Author has not the 

common superstitious reverence for the 
Bible, but he shows everywhere a large, 
humane, and Christian spirit." Mat- 
achussetts Quarterly Review. 



Honour 3 or, the Story of the hrare Caspar and the fair Annerl. 

By CLEMENS BRENTANO. With aa Introduction and a Biographical 
Notice of the Author, by T. W. APPELL, Translated from the German. 
Fcp. 8vo. gilt edges, Is. 6d. 

Shakspeare's Dramatic Art, and his relation to Calderon and 

Goethe. Translated from the German of Dr. HERMANN ULRICI. 8vo. 7s. Gd. 
cloth. 

Outline of Contents. 

I. Sketch of the History of the Eng- 
lish Drama before Shakspeare. 
R. Greene and Marlowe. 
II. Shakspeare's Life and Times. 
ui. Shakspeare's Dramatic Style, and 
Poetic View of the World and 



iv. Criticism of Shakspeare's Plays, 
v. Dramas ascribed to Shakspeare of 
doubtful Authority. 

vi. Calderon and Goethe in their rela- 
tion to Shakspeare. 



We strongly recommend the book consider it as being, when taken all in 



to the notice of every lover of Shaks- 
peare, for we may truly say that it is 
well calculated to fill up a void in our 
own as well as in German literature." 
Westminster Review. 

" The author has the ' Philosophic 
depth,' \vhich we vainly look for in 
Schlegel's critici&m of the great poet." 
The Dial. 

" We welcome it as an addition to our 
books on the national dramatist ex- 
haustive, comprehensive, and philo- 
sophical after a scholastic fashion, and 
throwing new lights upon many things 
in Shakspeare." Spectator. 

" The work of Ulrici in the original, 
has held, ever since its publication, an 
honoured place upon our shelves. We 



all, one of the most valuable contribu- 
tions ever made to the criticism of 
Shakspeare. The theoretical system 
upon which it rests, if not altogether 
accurate or completely exhaustive, is, 
at all events, wide and searching ; its 
manner of expression is almost every- 
where clear and practical, and its 
critical expositions are given with 
equal delicacy of feeling and liveliness 

of fancy Here there are treated, 

successively, Shakspeare's language, 
his mode of representing characters, 
and his dramatic invention." Tatft 
Magazine. 

" A good translation of Dr. Ulnci's 
work on Shakspeare cannot fail of being 
welcome to the English thinker. It is, 



Works published by 



in fact, a vindication of our great poet 
from a charge which has lately been 
brought against him by critics on both 
sides of the Atlantic. Dr. Ulrici boldly 
claims for him the rank of an emi- 
nently Christian author The pre- 
sent work is the least German of all 
German books, and contains remark- 
able novelty in its views of the subject 
and the arrangement of its topics. The 
plan adopted by Dr. Ulrici of contem- 
plating each play in the light of a 
central idea is especially deserving of 

all praise We recommend the entire 

criticism to the perusal of the judicious 
reader." Athenaeum. 

" Excellencies of a high order per- 
vade this performance, which, in our 
judgment, entitle it to the grateful re- 
ception of all who are desirous of be- 
coming better acquainted with the 

mind of Shakspeare The sketch 

of the modern dramatic art with which 
the book opens, as well as of the life of 
Shakspeare, is well drawn ; indeed, the 
historical sketches throughout are ad- 
mirably executed The author's 



views are ingenious, and the criticisms 
on the several dramas are adm.rable, 
and will fully repay the reader's ttudy." 
Nonconformist. 

" We welcome this work as a valu- 
able accession to SJiaksperian litera- 
ture. It is the principal object of Dr. 
Ulrici's criticisms of the several pla: 



to trace and bring to light the iu 
mental and vivifying idea of each. In 
this difficult task we think he has 
been eminently successful We can- 
not dismiss this very valuable work, 
which breathes a tone of pure and ex- 
alted morality, derived from a mind 
truly religious, and whose holy and 
chastening influence expresses itself 
throughout, without remarking how 
much we admire the excellent manner 
in which it is translated." Inquirer. 

"Ulrici's admirable ' Shakspeare's 
Dramatic Art' has been lately trans- 
lated with considerable skill. We re- 
commend the work as an addition to 
our higher critical literature, and we 
should like to recur to it more fully." 
Christian Remembrancer. 



The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined. 



By Dr. DAVID FKIEDRICH STRADSS. 3 vols. 8vo. 1 16s. cloth. 



" The extraordinary merit of this 
book Strauss's dialectic dexterity, 
his forensic coolness, the even polish of 
his style, present him to us as the ac- 
complished pleader, too completely 
master of his work to feel the tempta- 
tion to unfair advantage or unseemly 
temper We can testify that the 
translator has achieved a very tough 
work with remarkable spirit and fideli- 
ty. The author, though indeed a good 
writer, could hardly have spoken better 
had his country and language been 
English. The work has evidently fal- 
len into the hands of one who has not 
only effective command of both lan- 
guages, but a familiarity with the sub- 
ject-matter of theological criticism, and 
an initiation into its technical phraseo- 
logy." Westminster and Foreign Quar- 
terly Review, 1847. 

" Whoever reads these volumes with- 
out any reference to the German, must 
be pleased with the easy, perspicuous, 
idiomatic, and harmonious force of the 
English style. But he will be still 
more satisfied when, on turning to the 
original, he finds that the rendering 
is word for word, thought for thought, 
and sentence for sentence. In pre- 
paring so beautiful a rendering as the 
present, the difficulties can have been 
neither few nor small in the way 
of preserving, in various parts of the 
work, the exactness of the translation, 
combined with that uniform harmony 
and clearness of style, which impart 



to the volumes before us the air 
and spirit of an original. A modest 
and kindly care for his reader's con- 
venience has induced the translator 
j often to supply the rendering into Eng- 
j lish of a Greek quotation, where tJiere 
j was no corresponding rendering into 
| German in the original. Indeed, 
Strauss may well say, as he does in the 
notice, which he writes for this English 
edition, that as far as he lias examined 
it, the translation is, " et accurata et 
1 erspicua.' "Prospectire Review. 

" In regard to learning, acuteness, and 
sagacious conjectures, the work resem- 
bles Niebuhr's ' History of Rome.' The 
general manner of treating the subject 
and arranging the chapters, sections, 
and parts of the argument, indicates 
consummate dialectical skill ; while the 
style is clear, the expression direct, and 
the author's openness in referring to his 
sources of information, and stating his 
conclusions in all their simplicity, is 

candid and exemplary It not only 

surpasses all its predecessors of its kind 
in learning, acuteness, and thorough in- 
vestigation, but it is marked by a serious 
and earnest spirit." Cli ristianExaminer. 
^ " I found in M. Strauss a young man 
full of candour, gentleness, and modesty 
one possessed of a soul that was al- 
most mysterious, and, as it were, sad- 
dened by the reputation he had gained. 
He scarcely seems to be the author of 
the work under consideration." Quinet, 
Revue des Mondes. 



John Chapman, 142, Strand. 



The Dramas of Iphigenia in Tauris, and Torquato Tasso, of 

GOETHE; and the MAID OF ORLEANS, of SCHILLEU. Translated, 
(omitting some passages,) with Introductory Remarks, by ANNA SWANWICK. 
8vo. cloth ; 6s. 



" It is seldom that we meet with a 
translator so competent as the lady 
who has here rendered these selections 
from the two great poets of Germany 
into elegant and vigorous English 
verse. The ' Iphigenia' of Goethe has 
been already well done by Mr. William 
Taylor, of Norwich ; but his version is 
not, by many degrees, so readable as 
the one before \m.' l 'At]icnawm. 

"We have to congratulate the trans- 
lator on perfect success in a very diffi- 
cult task." Dublin UnnferntyMagaxine 

" The translator has gone to her 
beautiful task in the right spirit, ad- 
hering with fidelity to the words of the 
original, and evidentlypeuetrating the 
inind of the poet. The translations 

Chanuing's Works^ Complete. 

Edited by JOSEPH BARKER. In 6 vols. 12mo. 6s. sewed, 8s. cloth. 

A Retrospect of the Religious Life of England ; 



are very beautiful ; and while they will 
serve to make the mere English reader 
acquainted with two of the most per- 
fect works ever written, the Iphigenia 
and the Tasso, they will form useful 
assistants to those who are commen- 
cing the study of the German lan- 
guage." Foreign Quarterly Review. 

"This English version presents these 
poems to us in a garb not unworthy of 
the conceptions of their authors." 
Morning Chronicle. 

" The verse is smooth and harmo- 
nious, and no one acquainted with the 
original can fail to be struck with its 
great fidelityand accuracy." Christian 
Teacher. 



Or, the Church, Puritanism, and Free Inquiry. 
B.A. Post 8vo, 10s. 6d. cloth. 



By JOHN JAMES TAYLER, 



" This work is written in a chastely 
beautiful style, manifests extensive i 
reading and careful research ; is full 
of thought, and decidedly original in ; 
its character. It is marked also by 
the modesty which usuallycharacterises 
true merit.' 1 Inquirer. 

" Mr. Tayler is actuated by no sec- 
tarian bias, and we heartly thank him 
for this addition to our religious litera- > 
ture." Westminster Review. 

" It is not often our good fortuue to ; 
meet with a book so well conceived, | 
so well written, and so instructive as 
this. The various phases ot the national 
mind, described with the clearness and | 
force of Mr. Tayler, furnish iuexhaust- i 
able material for reflection. Mr.Tayler i 
regards all partiesinturnfrom anequita- 
ble point of view, is tolerant towards in- 
tolerance, and admires zeal and excuses 



fanaticism, wherever he sees honesty. 
Nay, he openly asserts that the religion 
of mere reason is not the religion to 
produce a practical effect on a people ; 
and therefore regards his own class 
only as one element in a letter principle 
church. The clear and comprehensive 
grasp with which he marshals his 
facts is even less admirable than the 
impartiality, nay, more than that, the 
general kindliness with which he re- 
flects upon them." Examiner. 

" The writer of this volume has 
all the calmness belonging to one who 
feels himself not mixed up with the 
struggle he describes. There is about 
it a tone of great moderation and can- 
dour : and \\ecannotbut Lei confident 
that we have here, at least, theproduct 
of a thoroughly honest mind." Lowe's 
Edinburgh Mug<*zine 



The Elements of Individualism. 

By WILLIAM MACCALL. Post 8vo. 7s. 6d. cloth. 



book worthy of perusal, 
iind no sympathy 



Even those who can fi f -- . 

with its philosophy, will derive plea 
sure and improvement from the many 
exquisite touches of feeling, and the 
many pictures of beauty which mark 

1 "^frexpnnsive philosophy, the pe- 
netrative intellect, and the general 
humanity of the author have rendered 



The Elements of Individualism a book of 
strong and general interest." Critic. 
" We have been singularly interested 

by this book Here is a ?-peaker and 

thinker whom we may securely feel to 
be a lover t,f truth, exhibiting in his 
work a form and temper of mind very 
rare and peculiar in our time." Man- 
chester Examiner. 



10 



Works published by 



A Discourse of Matters pertaining to Religion. 

By THEODORE PARKER. Post 8vo. 7s. cloth. 



CONTENTS : 



Book 1, Of Religion in General ; or, 

a Discourse of the Sentiment and its 

Manifestations. 
Book 2. The Relation of the Religious 

Sentiment to God; or, a Discourse 

of Inspiration. 
Book 3. The Relation of the Religious 

Sentiment to Jesus of Nazareth ; or, 

a Discourse of Christianity. 

" Mr. Parker is a very original writer. 
We recommend the work to our readers 
as one of a very remarkable kind, which 
cannot fairly be judged of by detached 
extracts." Edinburgh Review, October, 
1847. 

" Parker writes like a Hebrew 
prophet, enriched by the ripest culture 

of the modern world His loftiest 

theories come thundering down into 
life with a rapidity and directness of 
aim which, while they alarm the timid 
and amaze the insincere, afford proof 
that he is less eager to be a reformer 
of men's thinking, than a thinker for 
their reformation. Whatever judgment 
the reader may pronounce on the philo- 
sophy of the volume, he will close it, we 
venture to affirm, with the consciousness 
that he leaves the presence of a truly 
great mind ; of one who is not only un- 
oppressed by his large store of learning, 
but seems absolutely to require a mas- 
sive weight of knowledge to resist and 
regulate the native force of his thought, 
and occupy the grasp of his imagina- 
tion." Westminster and Foreign Quar- 
terly Review, 1847. 

"There is a mastery shown over 
every element of the Great Subject, 
and the slight treatment of it in parts 
no reader can help attributing to the 
plan of the work, rather than to the 
incapacity of the author. From the 
resources of a mind singularly exube- 



Book 4. The Relation of the Religious 
Sentiment to the Greatest of Books ; 
or, a Discourse of the Bible. 

Book 5. The Relation of the Religious 
Sentiment to the Greatest of Human 
Institutions ; or, a Discourse of the 
Church. 



rant by nature and laboriously enriched 
by culture, a system of results is here 
thrown up, and spread out in luminous 
exposition." Prospective Review. 

" Mr. Parker is no ephemeral tepcher. 

His aspirations for the future 

are not less glowing than his estimate 
for the past. He revels in warm anti- 
cipations of the orient splendours, of 
which all past systems are but the pre- 
cursors His language is neither 

narrow nor unattractive ; there is a 
consistency and boldness about it which 
will strike upon chords which, when 
they do vibrate, will make the ears 
more than tingle. We are living in 
an age which deals in broad and ex- 
haustive theories ; which requires a 
system that will account for everything, 
and assigns to every fact a place, 
and that no forced one, in the vast 
economy of things." Christian Remem- 
brancer. : 

" It is impossible for any one to read 
the writings of Theodore Parker with- 
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They abound in passages of fervid elo- 
quenceeloquence as remarkable for 
the truth of feeling which directs it, as 
for the genius by which it is inspired. 
They are distinguished by philosophical 
thought and learned investigation, no 
less than by the sensibility to beauty 
and goodness which they manifest." 
Christian Reformer. 



Sermons by the Re?. J. H. Thorn ; 



RELIGION, the CHURCH, and the PEOPLE. Is. 
SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS and SOCIAL DISRUPTION. 
The CLAIM of IRELAND. 6d. 
PREVENTIVE JUSTICE and PALLIATIVE CHARITY. 



6d. 



6d. 



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11 



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living, thinking, active man projected 
from the face of the records which he 
has left. 

" His spirit was a battle-field, upon 
which, with fluctuating fortune and sin- 
gular intensity, the powers of belief and 
scepticism waged, from first to last, their 
unceasing war; and within the com- 
pass of his experience are presented to 
our view most of the great moral and 
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condition of our race." Quarterly Rev. 

" This book will improve his (Blanco 
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Luther Revived. 



the peculiar construction of his mind, 
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reader of Doctor Arnold." Examiner. 

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the doctrines of peace and love, respect ! in many unexpected quarters. To all 
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in these lectures, are worthy of all j movement, we would recommend this 
honour." Nonconformist. book, on account of the fervid elo- 

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A Quarterly Journal of Theology and Literature. 

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aspects of LITERATURE. Under the conviction that lingering influences from the 
doctrine of verbal inspiration are not only depriving the primitive records of the 
Gospel of their true interpretation, but even destroying faith in Christianity it- 
eelf, the Work is conducted in the confidence that only a living mind and heart, 
not in bondage to any letter, can receive the living spirit of Revelation ; and in the 
fervent belief that for all such there is a true Gospel of God, which no critical or 
historical speculation can discredit or destroy. It aims to interpret and represent 
Spiritual Christianity, in its character of the Universal Religion. Fully adopting 
the sentiment of Coleridge, that ' the exercise of the reasoning and reflective 
Dowers increasing insight, and enlarging views, are requisite to keep alive the 
substantial faith of the heart.' with a grateful appreciation of the labours of 
faithful predecessors of all Churches, it esteems it the part of a true reverence 
not to rest in their conclusions, but to think and live in their spirit. By the name 
' PROSPECTIVE REVIEW,' it is intended to lay no claim to Discovery, but simply 
to express the derire and the attitude of Progress; to suggest continually the Duty 
of using Past and Present as a trust for the Future ; and openly to disown the 
idolatrous Conservatism, of whatever sect, which makes Christianity but a lifeless 
formula." Extract from tfie Prospectus. 

No. XX. was published on the 1st of November, 1849. Price 2s. 6d. 

Works for Review to be sent to the Publisher or Editors; Advertisements in 
all cases to the Publisher. 

The Evidences of the Genuineness of the Gospels. 

By ANDREWS NORTON, Professor of Sacred Literature, Harvard University, 



.^ in the first volume, and this 
edition of the work embodies throughout various alterations and corrections 
made by the author at the present time. 

THE Work consists of three Parts, as follows : 
PART I. 

PROOF THAT THE GOSPELS REMAIN ESSENTIALLY THE SAME AS THEY WERE 
ORIGINALLY COMPOSED 

PART II. 
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE THAT THE GOSPELS^HAVE BEEN ASCRIBED TO THEIR 

PART III. 

ON THE EVIDENCES FOR THE GENUINENESS OF THE GOSPELS AFFORDED BY 
THE EARLY HERETICS. 



Works published by 



The very copious Notes appended to each volume constitute about half the 
amount of the entire work, the principal subjects of which are as follows : 

CONTENTS OP THE NOTES. 



NOTE I. Further remarks on the 
present state of the Text of the Gos- 
pels. 

NOTE II. Various readings of the 
copies of the gospels extant in the time 
of Origen, which are particularly 
noticed by him. 

NOTE III Undisputedlnterpolations 
in Manuscripts of the Gospels. 

NOTE IV. On the Origin of the Cor- 
respondences among the first three 
Gospels. 

NOTE V. Justin Martyr's Quota- 
tions. 

NOTE VI. On the Writings ascribed 
to Apostolical Fathers. 

NOTE VII. On the Statue which is 
said by Justin Martyr, and others, to 
have been erected at Rome to Simon 
Magus. 



NOTE VIII. On the Clementine 
Homilies. 

NOTE IX. On the false Charges 
brought against the Heretics, parti- 
cularly by the later Fathers. 

NOTE X. On the Jewish Dispensa- 
tion, Pentateuch, and the other books 
of the Old Testament. 

NOTE XI.- On the Distinction made 
by the Ancients between Things Intel- 
ligible and Things Sensible ; on the use 
of the Terms Spiritual and Material, as 
applied to their Speculations ; and on 
the nature of Matter. 

NOTE XII. On Basilides and the 
Basilidians. 

NOTE XIII. On the Gospel of Mar- 
cion. 

NOTE XIV. On the use of words 
EOZ and DEUS. 



NOTICES OP THE WORK. 



"Professor Norton has devoted a 
whole volume full of ingenious reason- 
ing and solid learning, to show that the 
Gnostic sects of the second century ad- 
mitted in general the same sacred books 
with the orthodox Christians. How- 
ever doubtful may be his complete suc- 
cess, he has made out a strong case, 
which, as far as it goes, is one of the 
most valuable confutations of the ex- 
treme German ^W^I^OVTIJ, an excellent 
subsidiary contribution to the proof of 
the ' genuineness of the Scriptures.' * * * 
His work on the Genuineness of the 
Scriptures is of a high intellectual 
order." Quarterly Keview, March, 1846. 

" This (the 2nd and 3rd volumes) is a 
great work upon the philosophy of the 
early history of our faith, and upon the 
relations of that faith with the religious 
systems and the speculative opinions 
which then formed the belief or engaged 
the attention of the whole civilized 
world. The subject is one of vast com- 
pass and great importance; and for- 
tunately it has been examined with 
much thoroughness, caution, and inde- 
pendence. The conclusions arrived at 
are those of one who thinks for himself, 
not created by early prepossessions, 
nor restricted within the narrow limits 
of opinions peculiar to any school or 
sect. The originality and good sense of 
Mr. Norton's general remarks impress 
the reader quite as strongly as the accu- 
racy of his scholarship, and the wide 
range of learning with which the subject 
is Illustrated. His mind is neither 
cumbered nor confused by the rich store 
of its acquisitions, but works with the 
greatest clearness and effect when en- 



gaged in the most discursive and far- 
reaching investigations. Nearly the 
whole of the work, as the German 
would say, belongs to the history of 
'pure reason.' The originality of Mr. 
Norton's views is one of their most 
striking characteristics. He does not 
deem it necessary, as too many theo- 
logians have done, to defend the records 
of his faith by stratagem. The conse- 
quence is, that his work is one of the 
most unanswerable books that ever was 
written. It comes as near to demon- 
stration as the nature of moral reason- 
ing will admit. 

" As an almost unrivalled monument 
of patience and industry, of ripe scho- 
larship, thorough research, eminent 
ability, and conscientious devotion to 
the cause of truth, the work may well 
claim respectful consideration." The 
reasoning is eminently clear, simple, 
and direct ; and abounds with the re- 
sults of the most profound learning." 
North American Review. 

" The first volume of this work was 
published so long ago as the year 1837. 
At the close of it the author announces 
his intention to pursue the argument, 
by inquiring into the evidence to be 
derived from the testimony of the 
different heretical Sects. It is to this 
part of the subject that the second and 
third volumes, now before us, are 
directed, which are evidently the 
fruit of much labour, research, and 
extensive reading ; and contain a 
variety of very curious incidental mat- 
ter, highly interesting to the student of 
ecclesiastical history, and of the human 
mind." Prospective Review. 



John Chapman, 142, Strand. 15 



Cfte Catftolu 



THE Publisher of " The Catholic Series" intends it to 
consist of Works of a liberal and comprehensive character, 
judiciously selected, embracing various departments of literature. 

An attempt has been made by the Church of Rome to realize 
the idea of Catholicism at least in form and with but a 
partial success; an attempt will now be made to restore 
the word Catholic to its primitive significance, in its appli- 
cation to this Series, and to realize the idea of Catholicism 
in SPIRIT. 

It cannot be hoped that each volume of the Series will be 
essentially Catholic, and not partial, in its nature, for 
nearly all men are partial ; the many-sided and Impartial, 
or truly Catholic man, has ever been the rare exception 
to his race. Catholicity may be expected in the Series, 
not in every volume composing it. 

An endeavour will be made to present to the Public 
a class of books of an interesting and thoughtful nature, 
and the authors of those of the Series which may be of a 
philosophical character will probably possess little in com- 
mon, except a love of intellectual freedom and a faith in 
human progress; they will be united rather by sympathy of 
SPIRIT than by agreement in speculation. 

* For List of Works already published in the series, see pages 17 to 24. 



1 6 Works published by 



CHARACTERIZATION OF THE CATHOLIC SERIES 
BY THE PRESS. 



"The various works composing the "Catholic Series," should he known t 
all lovers of literature, and may he recommended as calculated to instruct and 
elevate hy the proposition of nohle aims and the inculcation of noble truths, 
furnishing reflective and cultivated minds with more wholesome food than the 
nauseous trash which the popular tale-writers of the day set before their 
readers." Morning Chronicle. 

"Too much encouragement cannot be given to enterprising publications 
like the present. They are directly in the teeth of popular prejudice and 
popular trash. They are addressed to the higher class of readers those who 
think as well as read. They are works at which ordinary publishers shudder 
as ' unsaleable/ but which are really capable of finding a very large public." 
Foreign Quarterly. 

" The works already published embrace a great variety of subjects, and 
display a great variety of talent. They are not exclusively nor even chiefly 
religious ; and they are from the pens of German, French, American, as well 
as English authors. Without reference to the opinion which they contain, we 
may safely say that they are generally such as all men of free and philoso- 
phical minds would do well to know and ponder." Nonconformist. 

" This series deserves attention, both for what it has already given, and for 
what it promises." Tait's Magazine. 

" A series not intended to represent or maintain a form of opinion, bu to 
bring together some of the works which do honour to our common nature, 
by the genius they display, or by their ennobling tendency and lofty aspira- 
tions." Inquirer. 

" It is highly creditable to Mr. Chapman to find his name in connexion 
with so much well-directed enterprise in the cause of German literature and 
philosophy. He is the first publisher who seems to have proposed to himself 
the worthy object of introducing the English reader to the philosophic mind 
of Germany, uninfluenced by the tradesman's distrust of the marketable nature 
of the article. It is a very praiseworthy ambition ; and we trust the public 
will justify his confidence. Nothing could be more unworthy than the at- { 
tempt to discourage, and indeed punish, such unselfish enterprise, by attaching 
a bad reputation for orthodoxy to every thing connected with German philo- 
sophy and theology. This is especially unworthy in the 'student,' or the 
' scholar,' to borrow Fichte's names, who should disdain to set themselves the 
task of exciting, by their friction, a popular prejudice and clamour on matters 
on which the populace are no competent judges, and have, indeed, no judgment 
of their own, and who should feel, as men themselves devoted to thought, 
that what makes a good book is not that it should gain its reader's acquiescence, 
but that it shouldvmultiply his mental experience ; that it should acquaint him 
with the ideas which philosophers and scholars, reared by a training different 
from their own, have laboriously reached and devoutly entertain ; that, in a 
word, it should enlarge his materials and his sympathies as a man and a 
thinker." Prospective Review. 

" A. series of serious and manly publications." Economist. 



John Chapman, 142, Strand. 17 



Representative Men. 

SEVEN LECTURES. By RALPH WALDO EMERSON. Post 8vo. cloth. 
5s. 

William Yon Humboldt's Letters to a Female Friend. 

A Complete Edition, Translated from the Second German Edition. By 
CATHERINE M. A. COOPER, Author of "Visits to Beechwood Farm." "Lucy's 
Half-Crown," &c. In 2 vols. small 8vo. cloth, 10s. 6d. 

" These admirable letters." West- \ " It is the only complete collection of 
minster hevirw. these remarkable letters, which has yet 

" We cordialiy recommend these been published in English, and the 



volumes to the attention of our readers 

The work is in every way worthy 

of the character and experience of its 
distinguished author." Daily News. 



translation is singularly perfect ; we 
have seldom read such a rendering of 
German thoughts into the English 
tongue." Critic. 



Popular Christianity : its Transition State and probable Deve- 
lopment. By FREDERICK FOXTON, A.B., formerly of Pembroke College, 
Oxford, and perpetual Curate of Stoke Prior and Docklow, Herefordshire. 
Post 8vo t cloth, 6s. 

Memoir of Jobaim Gottlieb Fiehte. 

By WILLIAM SMITH. Second edition, enlarged. Post 8vo, cloth, 4s. 6d. 

" A Life of Fiehte, full of [ able, has not mingled in philosophical 

nobleness and instruction, of grand discussion since the time of Luther.. 

purpose, tender feeling,and brave effort! Fichte's opinions may be true 

the compilation of which is exe- I or false; but his character as a thinker 

cuted with great judgment and fideli- I can be slightly valued only by such as 
ty." Prospective Review. know it ill ; and as a man, approved by 

" We state Fichte's character as it is I action and suffering, in his life and in 
known and admitted by men of all ! his death, he ranks with a class of men 
parties among the Germans, when we | who were common only in better ages 
say that so robust an intellect, a soul so than ours." State of German Litera- 
calm, so lofty, massive, and immove- ] ture, by Thomas Carlyle. 

The Vocation of the Scholar, 

By JOHANN GOTTLIEB FICH TE. Translated from the German, by William 

Smith. Post 8vo. cloth, 2s. ; paper cover, Is. 6d. 
" ' The Vocation of the Scholar'.. ..is | Fichte's works presented to the public 

distinguished by the same high moral ! in a very neat form No class needs 

tone, and manly, vigorous expression I an earnest and sincere spirit more than 



which characterize all Fichte's works 
in the German, and is nothing lost in 
Mr. Smith's clear, unembarrassed, and 
thoroughly English translation. " 
Douglas JerrolcTs Newspaper. 
" We are glad to see this excellent 



the literary class : and therefore the 
' Vocation of the Scholar,' the ' Guide 
of the Human Race,' written in Fichte's 
most earnest, most commanding tem- 
per, will be welcomed in its English 
dress by public writers, and be benefi- 



translation of one of the best of I cial to the cause of truth." Economist. 

On the Nature of the Scholar, and its Manifestations. 

By JOHANN GOTTLIEB FICHTE. TraEslated from the German by William 
Smith. Second Edition. Post 8vo. cloth, 3s. 6d. 

"With great satisfaction we welcome 1 author who occupies the most exalted 
this first English translation of an | position as a profound and original 



IS 



Works published by 



THE CATHOLIC SERIES ( 



thinker ; as an irresistible orator in the 
cause of what he believed to be truth ; 
as a thoroughly honest arid heroic man. 

The appearance of any of his 

works in our language is, we believe, a 

perfect novelty These orations 

are admirably fitted for their purpose ; 
so grand is the position taken by the 
lecturer, and so irrisistible their elo- 
quence." Examiner. 

"A pure and exalted morality and 
deep religious feeling breathes through- 
out the whole." Irish Monthly Mag- 
azine. 

The Vocation of Ian. 



' This work must inevitably arrest the 
attention of the scientific physician, by 
the grand spirituality of its doctrines, 

and the pure morality it teaches 

Shall we be presumptuous if we recom- 
mend these views to our professional 
brethren? or if we say to the enligh- 
tened, the thoughtful, the serious, This 
if you be true Scholars is your 
Vocation? We know not a higher mo- 
rality than this, or more noble principles 
than these : they are full of truth." 
British and Foreign Medico- Chirurgical 
Review. 



By JOHANN GOTTLIEB FICHTE. Translated from the German, by WIL- 
LIAM SMITH. Post 8vo, cloth, 4s. 6d. 



" In the progress of my present work, 
I have taken a deeper glance into re- 
ligion than ever I did before. In me 
the emotions of the heart proceed only 
from perfect intellectual clearness ; it 
cannot be but that the clearness I have 
now attained on this subject shall also 
take possession of my heart." Fichte's 
Correspondence. 

" ' THE VOCATION OF MAN' is, as 
Fichte truly says, intelligible to all 
readers who are really able to un- 
derstand a book at all ; and as the his- 
tory of the mind in its various phases of 
doubt, knowledge, and faith, it is of 
interest to all. A book of this stamp is 

The Characteristics of the Present Age. 

By JOHANN GOTTLIEB FICHTE. Translated from the German, by William 
Smith. Post 8vo. cloth, 7s. 

" A noble and most notable acquisi- 
tion to the literature of England." 
Doug/as Jerrold's Weekly Paper. 

"We accept these lectures as a true 
and most admirable delineation of the 
present age ; and on this ground alone 
we should bestow on them our heartiest 
recommendation ; but it is because they 
teach us how we may rise above the age 
that we bestow on them our most 
emphatic praise. 



sure to teach you much, because it ex- 
cites thought. If it rouses you to com- 
bat his conclusions, it has done a good 
work ; for in that very effort you are 
stirred to a consideration of points 
which have hitherto escaped your in- 
dolent acquiescence." Foreign Quar- 
terly. 

" This is Fichte's most popular work, 
and is every way remarkable." Atlas. 

" It appears to us the boldest and 
most emphatic attempt that has yet 
been made to explain to man his rest 
less and unconquerable desire to win 
the True and the Eternal. "Sentinel. 



"He makes us think, and perhaps 
more sublimely than we have ever for- 
merly thought, but it is only in order 
that we may the more nobly act. 

"As a majestic and most stirring 
utterance from the lips of the greatest 
German prophet, we trust that the 
book will find a response in many an 
English soul, and potently help to re- 
generate English Society." The Critic. 



The Popular Works of Johaun Gottlieb Fichte. 

Post 8vo, cloth, 12s. per volume. 

Contents of Vol. I. : 1. MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR, by WILLIAM SMITH. 
2. THE VOCATION OF THE SCHOLAR. 3. THE NATURE OF THE SCHOLAR. 
4. THE VOCATION OF MAN. 

Contents of Vol. II. : 1. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PRESENT AGE. 
2. THE WAY TOWARDS THE BLESSED LIFE ; OR, THE DOCTRINE OF .RE- 
LIGION. 

The Way towards the Blessed Life ; or. The Doctrine of Religion. 

Translated by WILLIAM SMITH. Post 8vo, cloth. 6s. 



John Chapman, 142, Strand. 



19 



THE CATHOLIC SERIES Continued. 



Characteristics of Men of Genius; 



A Series of Biographical, Historical, and Critical Essays, selected by per- 
mission, chiefly from the North American Review, with Preface, by JOHN 
CHAPMAN. 2 vols. post 8vo. cloth, 8s. 

CONTENTS. 

GREGORY VII., LOYOLA, PASCAL. 
DANTE, PETRARCH, SHELLEY, BYRON, GOETHE, WORDSWORTH, 

MILTON, SCOTT, THE GERMAN POETS. 
MICHAEL ANGELO, CANOVA. 
MACHIAVELLI, Louis IX., PETER THE GREAT. 



" Essays of very high order, which 
from their novelty, and their intrinsic 
value, we are sure will receive from the 
British public a reception commen- 1 

surate with their merits They are 

Essays which would do honour to the 
literature of any country."- Westmin- 
ster Review. 

" Essays of great power and interest. 
In freedom of opinion, and occa- 
sionally in catholicity ot judgment, the 
writers are superior to our own periodi- 
cal essayists ; but we think there is less 
brilliancy and point in them ; though 
on that very account there is, perhaps, 
greater impartiality and justice." 
Douglas Jerrold's Magazine. 

" Rich as we are in this delightful 
department of Literature, we gladly 
accept another contribution to critical 
biography The American writers 



keep more closely to their text than our 
own reviewers, and are less solicitous to 
construct a theory of their own, and 
thereby run the risk of discolouring the 
facts of history, than to take a calm 
and dispassionate survey of events and 
opinions." Morning Chronicle. 

" Essays well worthy of an European 
Life." Christian Reformer. 

" The collection before us is able and 
readable, with a good deal of interest 
in its subjects. They exhibit force, just- 
ness of remark, an acquaintance with 
their subject, beyond the mere book 
reviewed; much clear-headed pains- 
taking in the paper itself, where the 
treatment requires pains, a larger and 
more liberal spirit than is often found 
in Transatlantic literature, and some- 
times a marked and forcible style." 
Spectator. 



The Worship of Genius ; 

Being an Examination of the Doctrine announced by D. F. Strauss, viz. 
" That to our Age of Religious Disorganization nothing is left but a Worship 
of Genius ; that is, a Reverence for those great Spirits who create Epochs in 
the Progress of the Human Race, and in whom, taken collectively, the God- 
like manifests itself to us most fully," and thus having reference to the views 
unfolded in the work entitled, " Heroes and Hero-worship," by Thoinas Carlyle. 

AND 

The Distinctife Character or Essence of Christianity : 

An Essay relative to Modern Speculations and the present State of Opinion. 
Translated, from the German of Prof. C. Ullmann, by LUCY SANFORD. 1 vol. 



post 8vo. 2s. 



CONTENTS. 



1. General view of the object of the 

work. 

2. The different stages of development 

through which Christianity itself 
has passed. The same phases 
perceptible in the views which 
have been successively taken of it. 

3. Christianity as Doctrine. Under 

this head are comprised both 
Super-naturalism and Natu- 
ralism. 

4. Christianity as a Moral Law. The 

philosophy of Kant. Ration- 
alism. 

5. Christianity as the Religion of Re- 

demption. Schleiermacher's de- 
finition. 



6. The peculiar significance and in- 

fluence of Christ's individual 
character. 

7. The views of Hegel and his school. 

8. Christ as the exemplification of the 

union of the Divine and Human 
in one character. 

9. Importance of this truth for the de- 

finition of the distinctive Charac- 
ter of Christianity. 

10. Christianity as the Perfect Religion. 

11. Inferences from the preceding. 

12. Retrospect and epitome of the 

argument. 

13. Application of the preceding to the 

idea of Faith. 

14. Application to the Church. 



V The above two works are comprised in one volume, post 8vo. 2s. cloth. 



20 



JForks published ly 



THE CATHOLIC SERIES (continued.) 



" There are many just and beautiful 
conceptions expressed and developed, 
and the mode of utterance and illustra- 
tion is more clear and simple than that 
adopted often by our German brethren 
in treating such topics." Nonconformist. 



" There is in it much important and 
original thought. Intelligent, British 
Christians, who are inclined to take 
philosophical views of the Christian 
faith, will find much to delight and in- 
struct them." Baptist Magazine. 



The Life of Jean Paul Fr. Richter. 

Compiled from various sources. Together with his Autobiography, translated 
from the German. Second Edition. Illustrated with a Portrait engraved 
on steel. Post 8vo, cloth, 7s. 6d. 

| two volumes before us cannot be se- 
j riously read without stimulating the 



" The autobiography of Richter, which 
extends only to his twelfth year, is one 
of the most interesting studies of a true 
poet's childhood ever given to the 
world." Lowe's Edinburgh Magazine. 

"Richter has an intellect vehement, 
rugged, irresistible, crushing in pieces 
the hardest problems ; piercing into the 
most hidden combinations of things, 
and grasping the most distant; an 
imagination vague, sombre, splendid, 
or appalling, brooding over the abysses 
of being, wandering through infinitude, 
and summoning before us, in its dim 
religious light, shapes of brilliancy, 
solemnity, or terror; a fancy of exu- 
berance literally unexampled, for it 
pours its treasures with a lavishness 
which knows no limit, hanging, like 
the sun, a jewel on every grass-blade, 
and sowing the earth at large witli 
orient pearls. But deeper than all 
these lies humour, the ruling quality 
of RICHTER as it were the central fire 
that pervades and vivifies his whole 
being. He is a humorist from his in- 
most soul; he thinks as a humorist ; he 
imagines, acts, feels as a humorist: 
sport is the element in which his 
nature lives and works." THOMAS 
CARLYLE. 

" With such a writer it is no common 
treat to be intimately acquainted. In 
the proximity of great and virtuous 
minds we imbibe a portion of their na- 
ture feel, as mesmerists say, a health- 

ful contagion, are braced with the same sessed of the kindliest feelings, and" the 
spirit of faith, hope, and patient en- most brilliant fantasy, turned to a high 
durance -are furnished with data for j purpose that humour of which Rabelais 
clearing up and working outtheintri- , is the great grandfather, and Sterne one 
cate problem of life, and are inspired, i of the line of ancestors, and contrasted 
like them, with the prospect of immor- it with an exaltation of feeling and a 
tality. No reader of sensibility can rise ! rhapsodical poetry which are entirely 
from the perusal of these volumes with- j his own. Let us hope that it will coni- 
out becoming both wiser and better." plete the work begun by Mr. Carlyle's 
Atlas. Essays, and cause J can Paul to be really 



reader, like a good sermon, to self-ame- 
lioration, and in this respect they are 
invaluable. 

" Kichter is a thorough Christian, and 
a Christian with a large glowing human 
heart. The appearance of his biography 
in an English form cannot, therefore, 
but be regarded as a great boon to the 
best interests of the country." Taift 
Magazine. 

" Apart from the interest of the work, 
as the life of Jean Paul, the reader 
learns something of German life and 
German thought, and is introduced to 
Weimar during its most distinguished 
period when Goethe, Schiller, Ilerder, 
and Wielaud, the great fixed stars of 
Germany, in conjunction with Jean 
Paul, were there, surrounded by beau- 
tiful and admiring women, of the most 
refined and exalted natures, and of 
princely rank. It is full of passages so 
attractive and valuable that it is diffi- 
cult to make a selection as examples of 
its character." Inquirer. 

" This book will be found very valu- 
able as an introduction to the study of 
one of the most eccentric and difficult 
writers of Germany. Jean Paul's writ- 
ings are so much the reflex of Jean Paul 
himself, that every light that shines 
upon the one inevitably illumines the 
other. The work is a useful exhibition 
of a great and amiable man, who, pos- 



"We find in the present biography 
much that does not -so much amuse 
and instruct, as, to adopt a phrase from 



Assays 

read in this country."^, 



.r n 7i niter. 



Richter is exhibited in a most ami- 
able light in this biography industri- 



the religious world, positively edifies the i ous, frugal, benevolent, with a child-like 



reader. The life of Richter is indeed 
a moral and a religious, as mucli as a 
literary treat, to all who have a sense 
exercised to discern'religion and moral- 
ity as a thing essentially different from 
mere orthodoxy and asceticism. The 



simplicity of character, and a heart 
overflowing with the purest love. His 
letters to his wife are beautiful memo- 
rials ol true affection, and the way in 
which he perpetually speaks of his chil- 
dren shows that he was the most at- 



John CJiapman, 142, Strand. 



21 



THE CATHOLIC SERIES (continued.) 



tached and indulgent of fathers. Who- 
ever came within the sphere of his com- 
panionship appears to have contracted 
an affection for him that death only 
dissolved : and while his name was re- 
sounding through Germany, he re- 
mained as meekfand humble as if he 
had still been an unknown adventurer 
on Parnassus." The Apprentice. 

" The life of Jean Paul is a charming 
piece of biography which draws and 
rivets the attention. The affections of 



the reader are fixed on the hero with an 
intensity rarely bestowed on an his- 
torical character. It is impossible to 
read this biography without a convic- 
tion of its integrity and truth; and 
though Uitcher's style is more difficult 
of translation than that of any other 
German, yet we feel that his golden 
thoughts have reached us pure from the 
i mine, to which he has given that impress 
| of genius which makes them current in 
all countries." Christian Reformer. 



The Mental History of an Inquiring Spirit. 

A Biography of Charles Elwood. By O. A. BROWNSON. Post 8vo. 2s. 6d. 
cloth ; 2s. paper cover. 

"This work is an attempt to pre- 
sent Christianity so that it shall satisfy 
the philosophic element of our nature. 
In this consists its peculiar merit and 
its distinctive characteristic. Such a 
book was certainly very much needed. 
We have no doubt that it will add many 
a doubter to a cheerful faith, and con- 
firm many a feeble mind in the faith it 
has already professed. Mr. Brownson 
addresses the philosophic element, and 
the men in whom this element is pre- 
dominant ; and, of course, he presents 
the arguments that would be the most 
striking and satisfactory to this class of 
men. In so far as he ha succeeded, he 
must be considered to have done a meri- 
torious work. We think Mr. Brownson 
eminently qualified for this task, and 
that his success is complete. The work 
will, doubtless, be the means of giving 
composure and serenity to the faith of 
many who are as yet weak in the faith, 
or halting between two opinions." 
Christian Examiner. 

" In a series of chapters, Mr. Morton 
explains the nature of the Christian 
faith, and replies to the objections 
raised by Elwood as the discussion pro- 
ceeds, and the argument we take to be 
conclusive, though of course every one 
may differ as to details. The mighty 
theme is handled in a most masterly 
style, and the reasoning may fairly be 
called 'mathematical.' There is nei- 
ther rant nor cant, hypothesis or dog- 
matism. Christianity is proved to be 
a ' rational religious system,' and the 
priest is exhibited in his true character. 

The Mission of the German Catholics. 

By Prof. G. G. GERVINUS, Author of the " Geschichte der Poetiachen 
National-Literatur der Deutschen." Post 8vo. 6d. 



We can cordially recommend the vo- 
lume, after a very careful perusal, to the 
layman who desires to think for him- 
self, and to the clergy, as eminently 
calculated to enlarge their views and 
increase their usefulness, by showing 
them the difference between sectarian- 
ism and Christianity." Sentinel. 

" The purposes, in this stage of his 
progress, which Mr. Brownson has in 
view are, the vindication of the reality of 
the religious principle in the nature of 
man ; the existence of an order of senti- 
ments higher than the calculations of 
the understanding and the deductions 
of logic ; the foundation of morals on 
the absolute idea of right in opposition 
to the popular doctrine of expediency; 
the exposition of a spiritual philosophy ; 
and the connexion of Christianity with 
the progress of society. 

" The work presents the most profound 
ideas in a simple and attractive form. 
The discussion of these principles, 
which in their primitive abstraction are 
so repulsive to most minds, is carried 
on, through the medium of a slight fic- 
tion, with considerable dramatic effect. 
We become interested in the final 
opinions of the subjects of the tale, as 
we do in the catastrophe of a romance. 
A slender thread of narrative is made 
to sustain the most weighty arguments 
on the philosophy of religion ; but the 
conduct both of the story and of the 
discussion is managed with so much 
skill, that they serve to relieve and for 
ward each other." Dial. 



THE CATHOLIC SERIES (continued.} 

The Philosophical and Esthetic Letters and Essays of Schiller, 

Translated, with an Introduction, by J. WEISS. Post 8vo. 5s. cloth. 



" These Letters stand unequalled in 
the department of ^Esthetics, and are so 
esteemed even in Germany, which is so 
fruitful upon that topic. Schiller is 
Germany's best ^Esthetician, and these 
letters contain the highest moments of 
Schiller. Whether we desire rigorous 
logical investigation or noble poetic ex- 
pression, whether we wish to stimulate 
the intellect or inflame the heart, we 
need seek no further than these. They 
are trophies won from an unpopular, 
metaphysical form, by a lofty, inspiring, 
and absorbing subject." Introduction. 

" It is not possible, in a brief notice 
like the present, to do more than inti- 
mate the kind of excellence of a book 
of this nature. It is a profound and 
beautiful dissertation, and must be dili- 
gently studied to be comprehended. 
After all the innumerable efforts that the 
present age has been some time making 
to cut a Royal road to everything, it is 
beginning to find that what sometimes 
seems the longest way round is the 
shortest way home ; and if there be a 
desire to have truth, the only way is to 
work at the windlass one's self, and 
bring up the buckets by the labour of 
one's o\vn good arm. Whoever works 
at the present well, will find ample 
reward for the labour they may bestow 
on it ; the truths he will draw up are 
universal, and from that pure elemen- 
tary fountain 'that maketh wise he that 
drinketh thereat.'" Douglas Jerrold's 
Magazine. 

" It is difficult, if not impossible, to 
give a brief, and at the same time faith- 
ful, summary of the ideas affirmed by 
Schiller in this volume. Its aim is to 
develop the ideal of humanity, and to 
define the successive steps which must 
be trodden to attain it. Its spirit 
aspires after human improvment, and 
seeks to indicate the means of realiza- 
tion. Schiller insists upon the necessi- 
ty of aesthetic culture as preliminary to 
moral culture, and in order to make 
the latter possible. According to the 
doctrine here set forth, until man is 
aesthetically developed, he cannot be 



morally free, hence not responsible, as 
there is no sphere for the operation of 
the will. 

" The style in which the whole volume 
is written is particularly beautiful, there 
is a consciousness of music in every page 
we read ; it it remarkable for the con- 
densation of thought and firm consist- 
ency which prevails throughout; and. 
so far as we are able to judge, the 
translation is admirably and faithfully 
rendered. The twenty-seven letters 
upon the '^Esthetic Culture of Man,' 
form the most prominent, and by far 
the most valuable, portion of the work ; 
they will be found full of interest and 
the choicest riches, which will abund- 
antly repay any amount of labour 
bestowed upon them." Inquirer. 

" This is a book which demands and 
deserves study. Either to translate or 
to appreciate it requires a somewhat 
peculiar turn of mind. Not that any 
body could read it without profit, but to 
gain from it all that it is capable of 
yielding, there must be some aptitude 
for such studies, and some training in 
them too. ..... To be appreciated 

it must be studied, and the study 
will be well repaid." Christian Ex- 



" Here we must close, unwillingly, 
this volume, so abounding in food for 
thought, so fruitful of fine passages, 
heartily commending it to all of our 
readers who desire to make acquaint- 
ance with the philosophy of art. The 
extracts we have taken will prove what 
a treasure is here, for they are but a 
fraction of the gems that are to be 
gathered in every page. We make no 
apology for having so long lingered over 
this book; for, albeit, philosophy is 
somewhat out of fashion in our age of 
materialism, it yet will find its votaries, 
fit though few ; and even they who care 
not for the higher regions of reflection, 
cannot fail to reap infinite pleasure 
from the eloquent and truthful passages 
we have sought to cull for their mingled 
delight and edification." Critic. 



The Philosophy of Art. 



An Oration on the Relation of the Plastic Arts to Nature. Translated from 
the German of F. W. J. VON SCHELMNG, by A. JOHNSON. Post 8vo. Is. 
paper cover ; Is. 6d. cloth. 

inadequate manifestation of a high 
idea, which it is the office of man to 
penetrate. The true astronomer is not 
he who notes down laws and causes 
which were never revealed to sensuous 
organs, and which are often opposed to 



"This excellent oration is an appli- 
cation to art ol Schelling's general 
philosophic principles. Schelling takes 
the bold course, and declares that what 
is ordinarily called nature is not the 
summit of perfection, but is only the 



John Chapman, 142, Strand. 



23 



THE CATHOLIC SERIES (continued.) 



the prima facie influences of sensuous 
observers. The true artist is not lie who 
merely imitates an isolated object in 
nature, but he who can penetrate into 
the unseen essence that lurks behind 
the visible crust, and afterwards re- 
produce it in a visible form. In the 
surrounding world means and ends are 
clashed and jarred together ; in the 
work of art the heterbgenjus is ex- 
cluded, and an unity is attained not to 
be found elsewhere. Schilling, in his 
oration, chiefly, not exclusively, regards 
the arts of painting and sculpture; but 



his remarks will equally apply to 
others, such as poetry and music. Thi* 
oration of Schelling's deserves an exten- 
sive perusal. The translation, with the 
exception of a few trifling inaccuracies, 
is admirably done by Mr. Johnson; 
and we know of no work in our language 
better suited to give a notion of the turn 
which German philosophy took after it 
abandoned the subjectivity of Kant and 
Fichte. The notion will, of course, be 
a faint one; but it is something to know 
the latitude and longitude of a mental 
p6sition." Examiner. 



By R. W. Emerson. 



(Second Series.) With a Notice by THOMAS CARLYLE. 3s. paper cover ; 
3s. 6d. cloth. 



"Among the distinguishing features 
of Christianity we are ready to say THE 
distinguishing feature is its humanity, 
its deep sympathy with human kind, 
and its strong advocacy of human wants 
and rights. In this particular, few 
have a better title to be ranked among 
the followers of Jesus than the author 
of this book." American Christian Ex- 
aminer. 

"The difficulty we find in giving a 
proper notice of this volume, arises 
from the pervadingness of its excellence, 
and the compression of its matter. 
With more learning than Hazlitt, more 
perspicuity than Carlyle, more vigour 
and depth of thought than Addison, and 
with as much originality and fascination 
as any of them, this volume is a bril- 
liant addition to the Table Talk of in- 
tellectual men, be they who or where 
they may." Prospective Review. 

" Mr. Emerson is not a common man, 
and everything he writes contains sug- 
gestive matter of much thought and 
earnestness." Examiner. 

" That Emerson is, in a high degree, 
possessed of the faculty and vision of 
the seer, none can doubt who will ear- 
nestly and with a kind and reverential 
spirit peruse these nine Essays. He 
deals only with the true and the eternal. 
His piercing gaze at once shoots swiftly, 
surely through the outward and the su- 
perficial, to the inmost causes and work- 
ings. Any one can tell the time who 
looks on the face of the clock, but he 
loves to lay bare the machinery and 
show its moving principle. His words 
and his thoughts are a fresh spring, 



that invigorates the soul that is steeped 
therein. His mind is ever dealing with 
the eternal ; and those who only Bve to 
exercise their lower intellectual facul- 
ties, and desire only new facts and new 
images, and those who have not a feel- 
ing or an interest in the great question 
of mind and matter, eternity and nature, 
will disregard him as unintelligible and 
uninteresting, as they do Bacon and 
Plato, and, indeed, philosophy itself." 
Douglas Jerrold's Magazine. 

" Beyond social science, because be- 
yond and outside social existence, there 
lies the science of self, the development 
of man in his individual existence, 
within himself and for himself. Of this 
latter science, which may perhaps be 
called the philosophy of individuality, 
Mr. Emerson is an able apostle and 
interpreter. ' ' League. 

" As regards the particular volume of 
EMERSON before us, we think it an im- 
provement upon the first series of essays. 
The subjects are better chosen. They 
come more home to the experience of 
the mass of makind, and are conse- 
quently more interesting. Their treat- 
ment also indicates an artistic improve- 
ment in the composition." Spectator. 

"All lovers of literature will read 
Mr. Emerson's new volume, as the 
most of them have read his former one ; 
and if correct taste, and sober views of 
I life, and such ideas on the higher sub- 
I jects of thought as we have been ac- 
| customed to account as truths, are 
1 sometimes outraged, we at least meet 
at every step with originality, imagi- 
nation, and eloquence." Inquirer. 



The Rationale of Religious Inquiry 5 



Or the Question stated, of Reason, the Bible, and the Church. By JAMES 
MARTINEAU. Third Edition, With a Critical Letter on Rationalism, Mira- 
cles, and the Authority of Scripture, by the late Rev. JOSEPH BLANCO 
WHITE. 4s. paper cover ; 4s. 6d. cloth. 



24 



Works published by John CJiapman. 



THE CATHOLIC SERIES (continued.) 

The Roman Church and Modern Society. 

By E. QUINET, of the College of Prance. Translated from the French Third 
Edition (with the Author's approbation), by C. COCKS, B.L. 8vo. 2s. 6d. cloth 

party, and has lately been conspicuous 
in resisting the pretensions of the Jesuit 
and French clergy to the exclusive edu- 
cation of the youth of France. He has 



" This enlightened volume " 

Christian Reformer. 

" Considered as a whole, the book be- 
fore us is the most powerful and philo- 
sophically consistent protest against 
the Roman Church which has ever 
claimed our attention, and, as a strong 
confirmation of its stirring efficiency, 
we may mention that the excitement-it 
has created in Paris has subjected the 
author to a reprimand from both Cham- 
bers of the Legislature, and excommu- 
nication by the Pope." Inquirer. 

" M. Quinet belongs to the movement 

Sermons of Consolation. 

By F. W. P. GREENWOOD, D.D. 3s. cloth. 



grappled with his theme both practi- 
cally, and in the philosophical spirit of 

history Rare merits are comprised 

in this volume a genuine spirit 

prevades it, and there arejmany passa- 
ges of great depth, originality and elo- 
quence." Atlas. 

" These eloquent and va'uable 

lectures." New Church Advocate. 



will meet with a grateful reception from 
all who seek instruction on the topics 
most interesting to a thoughtful mind. 
There are twenty -seven sermons in the 
volume." Christian Examiner. 



' This a really delightful volume, 
which we would gladly see producing 
its purifying and elevating influences in 
all our families." Inquirer. 

" This beautiful volume we are sure 

Self-Culture. 

By WILLIAM ELLERY CHANNINC. 6d. paper cover ; Is. cloth. 

Christianity^ or Europe. 

Translated from the German of NOVALIS (Friedrich von Hardenberg), by 
the Rev. J. D ALTON. 6d. paper cover. 

The Critical and Miscellaneous Writings of Theodore Parker. 

Post 8vo. cloth, 6s. 

" It will be seen from these extracts 
that Theodore Parker is a writer of 
considerable power aad freshness, if not 
originality. Of the school of Carlyle, or 
rather taking the same German origin- 
als for his models, Parker has -a more 
sober style and a less theatric taste. His 
composition wants the gro'esque anima- 
tion and richness of Carlyle, but it is 
vivid, strong, and frequently pictures- 
que, with a tenderness that the great 
Scotchman does not possess." Specta- 
tor. 

"Viewing him as a most useful, as 
well as highly gifted man, we cordially 
welcome the appearance of an English 
reprint of some of his best productions. 
The ' Miscellaneous' Pieces are charac- 
terised by the peculiar eloquence, which 
is without a parellel in the works of 



English writera His language is 
almost entirely figurative': the glories of 
nature are pressed into his service, and 
convey his most careless thought. This 
is the principal charm of his writings ; 
his eloquence is altogether unlike that 
of the English orator or essayist; it 
partakes of the grandeur of the forests 
in his native land ; and we seem, when 
listening to his speech, to hear the 
music of the woods, the rustling of the 
pine-trees, and the ringing of the wood- 
man's axe. In this respect he resem- 
bles Emerson ; but, unlike that celebra- 
ted man, he never discourses audibly 
with himself, in a language unknown 
to the world he is never obscure ; the 
stream, though deep, reveals the glitter- 
ing gems which cluster so thickly on its 



DD Humboldt, Wilhelm, freiherr von 

Letters of William von 
H8M4 Humboldt to a female friend 
1849 
v.2 



PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY